One of the outcomes of the social justice movement surrounding policing has been interest in tools to more safely detain individuals who police are trying to take into custody. Eugene Police is testing out one such new tool, BolaWrap, after its success in other U.S. cities.
“We are taking every opportunity to be on the forefront of testing new field technology to expand the tools and techniques that assist our officers,” said Deputy Chief Stacy Jepson. “We want to have every advantage at our disposal that helps us safely and successfully resolve difficult and often times dangerous situations.”
Eugene Police is giving BolaWrap a pilot run June 7 through July 7, 2021. BolaWrap is a remote restraint device that can be used to contain someone and is considered a less-lethal tool. The device is handheld, has a range of 10 to 25 feet and fires an 8-foot Kevlar tether from a cartridge that will wrap around a person, containing their extremities and allowing them to be taken into custody. There is a laser sight to help provide more accurate deployment.
There has been recent interest in the tool as agencies seek a better way to detain people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or on drugs and who are not receptive to de-escalation and commands. The tool is not viewed by EPD as an option for more violent encounters, like a combative person or someone armed with a gun, or as a tool for incidents involving crowds, such as riots. According to reports on the technology, it is currently being carried in 430 U.S. agencies and 36 countries. Some cities using BolaWrap include Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Bell, Albuquerque, West Palm Beach, Fort Worth, and Oak Ridge.
EPD has selected, trained and certified multiple officers to use the BolaWrap. However, at this time only one officer will carry the BolaWrap during their patrol shift and evaluate its effectiveness for possible future purchase and deployment. EPD’s use of force reporting and de-escalation policies would apply to BolaWrap even during the pilot phase. Each device costs approximately $1,000 per unit, which includes cartridges and accessories.
After the month’s test and evaluation phase is complete, EPD will evaluate results and if there is indication this may be a viable tool, will outline a process for moving forward that includes Eugene Police Commission, Training Division, Eugene Police Employees Association, and other stakeholders.