TEMPE, Ariz. – Inside a Tempe warehouse, workers are assembling the latest crime-fighting tool straight out of a comic book or cowboy movie.
Two officers from Avondale are at the warehouse to learn how to use it and to take it back to their department.
“For us, it’s important to have as many tools as you can to be able to engage with different people in different scenarios,” said Sgt. David Jones.
This is the BolaWrap. A remote control looking device that fires a kind of lasso that wraps up would-be bad guys like a burrito.
Tom Smith is the president of Wrap Technologies after starting a taser company with his brother in the 90s.
“Think of throwing handcuffs on someone from a distance. It restrains them and lets the officer take them into custody and stop the situation right there,” Smith said.
The BolaWrap comes with a laser that lights up the target and shows that it’s level. The cartridge goes in the front and vibrates when ready.
It’s best fired from 10 to 25 feet away giving the thin tether, traveling at 500 feet per second, time to unwind. And if it spins just right, it should stop just about anyone from running, kicking or punching.
An eight-foot-long kevlar cord is inside the device, and at the very end of the two anchors have four number 10 fish hooks in them, which is perfect for clinging to clothing.
The makers say the cord and anchors are not heavy enough to choke anyone, but the hooks could damage the eyes or snag the skin, so it’s best to aim at the lower arms or lower legs.
It doesn’t work well in tight quarters or wrap into a tight loop all the time. But it can be simply snipped off with some scissors or a small knife.
And the best part is that it’s virtually pain-free to the intended target.Â
Smith took aim at FOX 10’s Brian Webb to demonstrate how it works, sounds and feels.
The BolaWrap sells for just over $900, with each cartridge costing $30. Smith says 100 law enforcement agencies have already bought some with 1,200 more showing interest across the country and around the world.
Avondale Police Department purchased 11.
“it’s very effective. We went through it and we’ve been wrapped ourselves and know what it feels like to have that,” Sgt. Jones said.
The BolaWrap was built to be a less harmful alternative to guns, tasers, a baton, or pepper spray. It’s mostly meant for less threatening situations like diffusing a drunk person or managing someone who is mentally ill.
“We want this device to be used early. No pain to the subject, keeps the officer safe and allows them to take these people into custody before it escalates,” Smith said.
Smith admits the BolaWrap is not a magic bullet but believes it’s another step in that direction; it’s a new way to wrap up a crime, just like they did in the old days.
Members of Wrap Technologies recently demostrated BolaWrap for law enforcement agencies in South America.Â
It also made national news by wrapping the police chief of the city of Los Angeles.