More than 500 police departments in the U.S. use BolaWrap devices, according to the manufacturer, including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sacramento and recently Miami. Officers on patrol with the BolaWrap will still have the same use-of-force reporting and de-escalation policies, McLaughlin said. Each device costs approximately $1,000. Four officers were trained in how to use the device, Molony said, including himself. The department only has one at the moment, which is loaned from the BolaWrap company and is carried by one officer on patrol. It’s being used during a test period through July 7.
The device is not viewed by the department as a way to deal with violent encounters, such as someone who is combative or armed with a gun, or for use on crowds and riots, police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said in a news release. He described the device as a more humane way to detain a single person who’s having a mental health crisis and might act violently when police try to put handcuffs on them.
“When de-escalation isn’t going to work, and they’re in a mental health crisis that we can’t just leave them and need to get them some help, this is a tool that can help us do that in the most safe and humane way possible,” Molony said. The department had been eyeing the technology since it was first released a couple of years ago and used in other cities, Sgt. Ryan Molony said.
“If you start to resist an officer trying to handcuff you or take hold of your arm, that would probably end up being more forceful than the BolaWrap,” he said. Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-521-2498, and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews. After having the device used on himself, Molony said it’s not difficult to get out in less than a few seconds. He added that department policy restricts them from shooting the BolaWrap at anyone who is running, in order to prevent injuries from falling.
After evaluating the results from one month’s use, the department will decide if it’s a viable tool. If the department decides it wants to utilize it, it will create a plan for how to move forward, which would include input from the Eugene Police Commission, the training division, Eugene Police Employees Association and other stakeholders,McLaughlin said. So far the BolaWrap has been deployed one time, but it was ineffective and failed to connect to the person’s clothing, Molony said.
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