L.A. Police Testing Kevlar Cords to Avoid Use of Force

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A device resembling a gadget on Batman’s utility belt will soon be in the hands of several hundred Los Angeles police officers to help detain individuals without using force, the Los Angeles Times reports. The BolaWrap 100 fires a Kevlar cord that ensnares an individual’s body to restrict mobility, giving officers seconds to swarm the person without using more drastic measures such as a Taser or gun. The handheld device, made by Las Vegas-based Wrap Technologies, sounds like a gun when it deploys a tether to entangle someone between 10 and 25 feet away. Barbs attached to the end of the tether grab hold of the person as it wraps around their arms or legs. Police leaders told the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners that officers will start testing the tool for free for 90 days in January. The 200 devices will be given to officers across the city once they are trained, said Deputy Chief Martin Baeza. “We are very excited to be piloting the BolaWrap,” Baeza said, to determine if “it meets the needs and standards that the LAPD is looking for.”

Adam Smith, a member of Black Lives Matter, told commissioners the department would probably deploy the tool mostly in minority communities. The BolaWrap is not something officers would use to counter suspects with firearms, but it could be used against knives or other objects. Mike Rothans, chief operating officer at Wrap Technologies and retired assistant Los Angeles sheriff, said the barbs create a “very small puncture” when the tether wraps around a person and could cause more pain if a suspect tries to pull the cords off. Dozens of police departments are either testing the devices or have purchased them this year. The Fresno Police Department started training officers in January. Hendersonville, N.C., started using the devices last week.

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