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Belgrade PD invests in technology to help reduce use of force

Posted at 9:10 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 11:10:30-05

BELGRADE — What sounds like a gunshot is actually some of the latest technology in law enforcement and military equipment.

It’s called the BolaWrap 100, and the idea is to restrain an individual from a distance without physically injuring them.

The Belgrade Police Department began training officers on the BolaWrap earlier this month.

“It’s a handheld device that deploys an 8 foot Kevlar cord with a barbed pellet at each end. And the intent is to entangle or restrain someone by grasping on to their clothing and limiting their movement,” said Belgrade Police Department Detective Cory Welch, who has helped train his colleagues with the device.

The BolaWrap is designed to wrap around the individual's legs or arms, restraining them, but not injuring them.

Chief of Police EJ Clark says the equipment itself isn’t too complicated, a laser pointer on the device lets you know where the wrap will shoot onto the target.

But deciding when the most appropriate time to use the device makes it more complex.

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Chief Clark says people having a mental health crisis might be a potential situation where the BolaWrap could come in handy.

“We don’t want to hurt them. We got to get them to help. How do you control them without hurting them? Sometimes that doesn’t work out. So this is just another option for that,” said Clark

The BolaWraps runs for about $1,200 apiece, and cartridges around $35.

But Chief Clark says the investment will be worth it if it means promoting de-escalation and reduced use of force within the agency.

“Concern of police use of force has been an issue nation-wide of discussion and Belgrade is just looking for alternatives to higher levels of use of force so that this gives us more appropriate, intermediary uses of force that we can use as the situation dictates,” said Detective Welch.

“You approach, you’re going to get in a physical altercation. But if you can lock up their arms, lock up their feet, they can’t run away, they can’t move their arms. You take them to the ground you handcuff them,” said Clark.

“You got them under control where there’s no punches or kicks, things like that. So that’s the whole purpose of it.”