DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mix new technology with an old-school tool and you get a new, non-lethal option for police. Some law enforcement agencies nationwide are beginning to adopt a lasso-type device that restrains people without deadly consequences.
The BolaWrap 100, created by Wrap Technologies, is a hand-held remote restraint device that discharges a Kevlar tether -- that acts like a lasso -- to bind a person's legs or arms. The company says this tool allows police to de-escalate a situation early on so that needed support can be provided.
The BolaWrap has the attention of the chief of the Daytona Beach Police Department as a way to restrain a person suffering from mental health issues without anyone getting hurt.
"You pull it out, you deploy it, and you basically secure that person so they can't hurt themselves and the officers don't get hurt," said Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri.
Capri invited the company to demonstrate how the product works, and he included Flagler County and other area law enforcement agencies to join him.
"It's another tool to put in our tool box," said Capri.
Trainers explain that the device discharges an 8-foot lasso-like tether at 640-feet per second to entangle a person who's 10 to 25 feet away. Capri and other law enforcement leaders tried it out themselves.
"You don't feel anything," said Volusia County Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood after he was on the receiving end as the Kevlar cord wrapped around his legs -- securing him with barbs. "I mean it's like a shock and awe. The loud sound of a gunshot and the only thing I really felt was when the hook went into my calf."
The company's website says the BolaWrap 100 is $925 and each single-use cartridge is $30.
"I don't put a price on saving lives, and this is going to save lives -- not only the officers', but it's going to save the lives of the individuals that don't need to have their lives taken just because they have a mental illness," said Capri. "They're the victims."
The Daytona Beach Police Chief's budgeting idea right now is to use money seized from drugs busts to pay for a few dozen. Volusia County's sheriff says he also plans on investing in the devices.
"This is another tool that can help us meet that mission of making sure that deputies go home safely and the person in the mental crisis goes to where they need to be safely," said Chitwood.
The BolaWrap is already being implemented by more than 30 law enforcement agencies from coast to coast. Three police departments in South Florida are part of that group: Coral Gables, Miami Springs, and North Miami.
In addition, there are other agencies testing the devices right now in Florida. Along with the Daytona Beach Police Department, law enforcement in Miami-Dade and Pinellas Counties are trying them out.
News4Jax did check with other local law enforcement agencies in Northeast Florida. While some are aware of the BolaWrap, we're told none have current plans to test this new device.