St. Joseph County Police exploring new restraining technology

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - Police departments across the United States routinely use nonlethal force in order to de-escalate a situation or detain someone who is not obeying police commands and causing a danger. On Tuesday, the St. Joseph County Police Department was introduced to a new kind of restraint technology, and it's something County Sheriff William Redman said he wanted to explore further.

The BolaWrap is that new form of nonlethal technology. It launches an eight-foot Kevlar tether that wraps around a subject's legs or arms and immobilizes them long enough for police to arrest them.

"I certainly would like to get these out on the street and give our officers another option, especially with the importance of de-escalating situations," St. Joseph County Sheriff William Redman said.

Redman said he had been exploring the BolaWrap for months before Tuesday's demonstration, citing national pressure on law enforcement to find safer and more efficient ways of detaining suspects.

"I researched this particular piece of equipment actually several months ago," Redman said. "I was looking at it and became very interested in it, and because of all the concerns of things going on nationally with law enforcement, I set it up so we could actually see it firsthand today."

Redman said he would like to move forward with purchasing the BolaWrap for widespread use in the St. Joseph County Police Department after liking what he saw on Tuesday.

"I am certainly pleased with the way this piece of equipment works," Redman said. "It gives our officers the necessary time to de-escalate the situation and make it safe for themselves and the community and certainly something I would move forward on purchasing."

Redman did not say how much a bulk order of BolaWraps would cost the department saying only that giving every officer one is not in the budget right now. He did say individual Bolawraps cost about the same as individual tasers, ranging from $700 to $1,000 apiece.

Experts on the BolaWrap said it is in use by law enforcement agencies across the world by more than 130 different departments. They told the St. Joseph County Police Department it is useful in detaining someone who may be in poor mental health or is having a bad reaction to drugs.

"The BolaWrap Device is a remote restraint device," said Rodney Sherrod, master instructor with Wrap Technologies, the owner of BolaWrap. "It can be used from up to ten to 25 feet. It doesn't cause pain. So, there's no pain to gain compliance such as the other tools or intermediate weapons that the officers carry."

Some Michiana police departments said they are not ready to add more nonlethal gear to their department. The Elkhart Police Department said it uses pepper ball air rifles, pepper spray, tasers and the 40mm Launchers as their nonlethal gear. It said it wants to get all of its officers proficient with those before adding more technology that requires training, but Sheriff Redman said he is already convinced.

"As sheriff, it's my responsibility to supply our officers with the tools that they need to successfully complete their jobs and do it safely," Redman said. "So, I thought that this would be a good fit for our department."

Redman did not give a specific timeline for how long it would be before the St. Joseph County Police Department would start widespread use of the BolaWrap.

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