PHOENIX-- An Arizona law enforcement agency wants to equip its deputies with a new tool designed to restrain a suspect without hurting them.
The La Paz County Sheriff's Office recently got a look at the BolaWrap and is now looking to buy more than 30 devices.
BolaWrap is a handheld device that shoots an 8-foot-long tether, according to manufacturer Wrap Technologies. It can be used to bind ankles, legs and arms, much like a lasso.
Capt. Curt Bagby says BolaWrap would not be a replacement for Tasers, but an extra tool for deputies to use when dealing with subjects in mental health crisis who may become violent. Bagby says the agency is considering funding sources right now.
“It can be very effective, but also can fail very easily if it only gets one arm or if it only gets one leg,” says police practices expert Andy Anderson.
Anderson retired from the Phoenix Police Department as assistant chief. He was with the department when it began using Tasers. He says no less-than-lethal device is 100 percent reliable.
“There’s not much out there yet that is consistently effective,” Anderson said. “It’s the same problem you have with Taser. If it doesn’t deploy properly, it’s not going to work.”
Some law enforcement experts have questioned whether the device could wrap around someone’s neck and choke them. Bagby says when tested on a mannequin, the BolaWrap would not wrap a neck tight enough to cause harm.
Wrap Technologies also said the device does not wrap a neck tightly.
Alex Barnes, a Wrap Technologies spokesman, says more than 70 agencies have seen their product demonstrations.
Barnes says Wrap Technologies offers a standard training on how to use the device and even has an instructor who can assist. Each BolaWrap costs $800. Its reusable cartridges are $30.
“If it fails, how much time do you have for plan B?” Anderson wondered. He says BolaWrap should be put to the test to make sure it can protect officers.
Anderson says he’s glad an Arizona agency is willing to try the device to determine BolaWrap’s best uses and its limitations.
“Obviously what we want it to be is an effective tool, so it will be interesting to see how it works in real life situations," says Anderson.