Tasers are a less-lethal tool for law enforcement over conventional firearms, but there are times when even those are considered excessive force, according to Dayton Police Chief Robert Vine.
Hoping to find another alternative, Vine and Dayton PD hosted an informational gathering with BolaWrap on Sept. 17 at the Dayton Community Center. Local law enforcement agencies were invited to attend and try out the BolaWrap device, which is an even less-lethal way of subduing a suspect, particularly those in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Created in 2016, the BolaWrap is a handheld apprehension tool that fires two pronged Kevlar tethers that wrap around the torso or legs of a person. The tethers restrain subjects from a distance without relying on pain compliance tools such as Tasers.
“There are certain situations where a Taser is inappropriate because it’s excessive force. The subjects aren’t resisting. They aren’t fighting you. They just aren’t complying with commands. This device can protect the person and the officer,” Vine said.
Vine arranged the BolaWrap presentation for the purpose of seeing if it is a tool that he would like to bring to Dayton PD.
“I was impressed. Watching videos about the reps is one thing but seeing it in person is different,” he said.
Among those attending the presentation was Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman Harkness, who volunteered to shoot the device and have it fired upon her.
Like Vine, Bergman came away impressed and believing that the device is an effective de-escalation tool.
“We are always looking for less lethal and less dangerous ways to subdue a suspect, and to do our jobs better,” Bergman said.
The DA is hoping to use part of her office’s seizure funds to purchase some of the devices for a trial run.
“I would like to see it tested out at some of the smaller departments across the county to see if this is something that can be used by all law enforcement agencies in Liberty County,” Bergman said. “Our office is committed to providing law enforcement with the best tools to do their jobs.”