CLEVELAND — More police departments across the state are using a new tool to apprehend suspects. It's called BolaWrap, a non-lethal way of restraining someone from a distance and without the need for a physical confrontation.
BolaWrap is a handheld device that's been on the market since 2018. It deploys what's essentially a rope and hook, which wraps around a suspect. Sgt. Tim Caine, with University Circle Police, said this will make a difference and even save lives.
"There is a little bit of element of surprise when they hear the bang," he said. "You know there is a second, second and a half, they're kind of startled. That's the window of opportunity for officers to move in to take control of the subject."
University Circle Police are adding the device to their arsenal, hoping to improve safety for both officers and suspects.
"This device, like I said, is going to definitely lower the complaints and reports for subjects claiming excessive force," Caine said.
BolaWrap is being used by larger city police departments like Cincinnati and smaller ones like the Defiance Police Department, in northwest Ohio.
Defiance Police Department Chief Todd Shafer said his officers have been using it for about three years and that it has been worth the investment.
"The last thing that we want to do as police officers is have to get in a physical confrontation because normally somebody gets injured out of that," he said.
Shafer said Bolawrap has proven to be most useful for dealing with those who are having a mental health crisis.
"People have an emotionally disturbed episodes, but two of them were actually threatening suicide by police officer that we were able to use the BolaWrap, and so we didn't have to escalate force," he said.
Caine is hoping for similar results, though he said the department is aware that deploying the device does come with some risks.
"Chance of losing an eye with one of the hooks and going into the soft tissue of the face and neck, that's the main concern of injury with that," he said. "That's why it's from the mid torso, lower torso, to the ankles."
Defiance police haven't seen anything like that happen but admit the BolaWrap isn't perfect.
"We've had two deployments where either it hit like an object that was in the way that stopped the device from wrapping up, but other than that if it's been a clear deployment they've worked perfectly, and, like I said, in every deployment it's stopped everyone from being injured, and that's the ultimate goal," he said.
As for Caine, he said training is key and after 35 years in law enforcment, he's confident using it will lead to safer arrests.
"I wish it was here sooner, to be honest with (you)" he said. "This device that could've come along many, many years prior to where it is right now."