BolaWrap restraint devices tested out at event hosted by Dayton PD

Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman Harkness gets instruction from a BolaWrap instructor Kevin Johnson before shooting the device at a mannequin.

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.

Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman was game for trying out a BolaWrap during a presentation on Sept. 17 at the Dayton Community Center. She volunteered to be on both sides of the device – having it fired at her and firing it on the mannequin pictured to her right. Firing the device at her is Kevin Johnson, master instructor for BolaWrap.

“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.”

A BolaWrap restraint wire, wrapped around the legs of Dayton Police Officer Joe Myers, is removed by Dayton Police Sgt. Tyler Head after a demonstration on Sept. 17 at Dayton Community Center.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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