In a world that would relish reducing police tactics to little more than a stern grimace aimed at criminals, a tool worthy of a superhero could soon add to officers’ non-lethal arsenal in the Washington, D.C., area.
Wrap Technologies has developed BolaWrap, a handheld gadget that “discharges” a cord at a suspect from up to 25 feet away, taking them down by wrapping around the arms or legs to trip them up, according to the company’s website.
Although it seems that anything less than a warm hug from law enforcement is considered “police brutality” these days, this alternative to tools like pepper spray and Tasers — dubbed “Remote Handcuffs” by the manufacturer — could prevent the use of deadly force in some cases.
The Landover Hills Police Department in Maryland recently ordered the devices for each of its officers, and other D.C.-area police departments are interested in the option as well, WRC-TV reported last week.
Every officer in one D.C.-area police department will be armed with a type of electronic lasso. Here’s how it works and why critics say it shouldn’t be on streets https://t.co/ChhXFqxfnB pic.twitter.com/tDJTapB1cf
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) July 15, 2020
A demonstration of the device in WRC’s report showed a volunteer being tripped up in the deployed cord after it wrapped around his legs, allowing him to be apprehended quickly.
“You’re immobilized temporarily enough, hopefully, that officers can get to you, get you under control and apprehended with as little injury as possible,” Landover Hills Police Department Chief Robert Liberati said.
“It’s not a pain compliance tool,” BolaWrap instructor Lindey Markert added. “A lot of other things on our belts — [oleoresin capsicum] spray, a baton and a Taser — rely on pain to stop somebody.”
“We can be distant, try and de-escalate, and then we can go in, restrain and not have to use excessive amount of force to do so.”
The device has hooks at the end of the cord, but is mainly used to immobilize a subject rather than cause injury.
Of course Black Lives Matter and other advocacy groups objected to the technology, expecting instead that officers “de-escalate” the situation (ignoring criminal and mentally ill individuals’ natural aversion to ad hoc talk therapy sessions).
“When you’ve got someone who’s violent or resistive or combative, these are things we can use to help get that person under control with as little injury as possible,” Liberati said.
While this seems like the perfect alternative to other painful methods and deadly force, some advocacy groups are still unhappy this device would be deployed at all, even as virtually every other policing technique has been roundly criticized, culminating in a movement to defund police departments around the country.
Other law enforcement agencies — like police departments in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Fresno, California — already use the device, but before the Los Angeles Police Department was set to begin testing the weapon last January, the same concerns were raised.
“Rather than investing in these weapons technologies, we should invest in our communities by providing needed services and opportunities that will promote well-being and enhance public safety,” HRW senior researcher John Raphling wrote in Jan. 9 article for The Nation.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter activist Adam Smith said he was worried that the device would be used disproportionately on minorities, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If anti-police activists get their way, then rubber bullets, tear gas, Tasers and now the effective Batman-like BolaWrap will be off limits to police officers, in addition to anything else that could cause the slightest harm to a suspect. Criminals, of course, have no such restrictions, as they flout the laws and often arm themselves with whatever they can get their hands on.
While it’s true that falling flat on the concrete might knock out a suspect’s teeth and result in claims of police brutality, the police are quickly running out of options to subdue suspects as city and state leaders allow criminals to gleefully run amok and commit crimes virtually unimpeded.
Perhaps the Landover Hills Police Department has the comic-book solution to the numerous villains that the radical anti-police left have created.
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