LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The Lowell Police Department is one of the first in the state to use a new device called a BolaWrap, which restrains a person with a small rope around the body.
Lowell police bought seven BolaWrap devices using a $10,000 grant from their police foundation, Sgt. Gordy Lauren said.
“It’s a restraint system that includes a cassette that you put into the front of the BolaWrap,” Lauren explained. “Inside the cassette is a 7-foot, 6-inch tether that has safety caps on each side and part of the safety cap is almost like a treble hook that you’d see on a fishing lure.”
The Kevlar tether wraps around the person’s body with the goal of immobilizing their hands or feet giving police time to handcuff them.
“For our mental health crisis situations that we have, in this day and age, we have them daily and if we need to take them into custody to get them to the hospital, up until this point it was either we’re wrestling with them or using a Taser,” Lauren said.
The cartridges cost about $30 and can be used once.
The department finished training on the device last weekend.
“We just show the basics of how this thing works, why it works the way it does, the different nomenclature of the different parts of the BolaWrap and how to safely use it,” Lauren said. “Usually the hooks are just in the clothing. It’s very rare that it would be in the skin of the subject and obviously if they’re not wearing a shirt, then we’re not going to use it.”
Officers also need to make sure there is enough space around the person.
“We don’t look for anything above what they call a wrap zone — above the midsection — so we’re not worrying about the head or the neck and it’s been successful as far as wrapping the arms and the legs,” Lauren said.
If the person is moving, there are more factors to consider.
“If they’re running, if they’re just kind of walking away, you can hit them in the legs and … if they do fall over, they’re able to catch themselves with the hands,” Lauren said. “If they’re running, we’re not going to aim for above the waist.”