Buffalo Police considering non-lethal BolaWrap as new restraining method

Sep 22, 2020

Police everywhere are looking for alternatives to an officer's service revolver. Buffalo Police say they are are now studying a device called a BolaWrap.

The issue surfaced again when an officer shot a man having a mental health crisis.

Police departments have many devices short of that service weapon, very frequently the electric Taser. That has its own risks, but less than a gun, and Buffalo only has a very few Tasers. They are not on the streets on patrol and there is a City Hall fight over the cash for the devices.

On Monday, Buffalo Police demonstrated a BolaWrap. Using a gun blank cartridge, the Bola fires a tiny cable with a hook on the end, which winds around the person cops are trying to restrain. The device is aimed, so it may wind up legs, preventing the person from running away, or around the chest to stop arm movement.

Buffalo Police (l) demonstrate the BolaWrap on a mannequin (r).
Credit Buffalo Police Video

Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said trying to get loose winds up the person even more.

"The hooks would go deeper in the clothing, preventing that," Rinaldo said. "Part of the program itself is to also have a quick response, meaning as soon as you would deploy that and you would wrap somebody, you would have an arrest team that would immediately then move in and take custody of the person, preventing them from trying to get out of it or possibly injure themselves trying to tear it out."

Rinaldo said that is much different than a Taser.

"Which delivers an electric shock in the attempt to get compliance," he said. "The Taser doesn't necessarily restrain an individual. It's a pain compliance device that then seeks compliance from the individual. The difference with this weapon is there is no pain, there's no compliance. It's automatically restraining somebody against their will."

Buffalo Police say each unit costs about $1,000.
Credit Buffalo Police Video

Mayor Byron Brown said this is a sound solution to the problem of citizen and cop collision.

"We are at a time now of real challenge in our community and in our country. The more we can come together with sound solutions, with sound ideas, the more we can accomplish collectively as a community," Brown said.

Buffalo Police are considering trying out the $1,000 devices in a pilot project to see how workable they are in routine patrol. At least one local department has purchased the BolaWrap.