Digging Deeper: Madison police consider new less-lethal restraint device

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MADISON (WKOW) — The Madison Police Department is considering a new non-lethal device. It is designed to restrain someone without hurting them, unlike a Taser device.

The Bolawrap 100 looks like something that Batman would use. It shoots an eight-foot-long Kevlar line that wraps around a person’s legs or torso. It has weighted hooks attached to the line, which is held in a cartridge. A laser helps the officer aim before firing.  

“We’re fascinated by it,” said Madison Police Sergeant Kimba Tieu. “I have not seen something like this in my years in law enforcement.”

Sgt. Tieu says the Bolawrap is meant to help officers in encounters with people in crisis or struggling with mental health issues.

“We want to be able to hold them down to either get them into custody or get them the help that they need,” said Sgt. Tieu, who also says the device buys officers time. “It gives officers opportunity to maybe move in or think about either delaying or trying a different tactic.”

Madison police began looking into the device in March 2018 after reaching out the company behind the Bolawrap, Wrap Technologies.

“We are always looking for new ways, whether through technology, tactics…to improve outcomes,” Sgt. Tieu says.

In December 2018, the department completed it’s first training course and certified six officers to become instructors. MPD is the first in Wisconsin to start testing the device.

Wrap Technologies COO Mike Rothans tells 27 News that Madison police joins about 60 other departments across the country in testing the Bolawrap.

“[Law enforcement] agencies are looking for something in between that can help them control people before they have to use additional force [i.e. a Taser],” said Rothans, who admits their device has garnered a lot of interest since they began marketing it less than a year ago.

Rothans says the company has been contacted by other departments in Wisconsin.

Still, as cool as the Bolawrap sounds to the average person, Sgt. Tieu admits the device has its limitations.

“It does require a four-foot clearance on all sides of the subject and it would have to be a static operation,” said Sgt. Tieu. “[Still] it has the potential to be a very useful tool for us.”

As of late-February, about 20 Madison police officers will take the Bolawrap from their training facility and begin testing it in the field.

Sgt. Tieu says if the department eventually adopts the device, it’s “unlikely” that every officer will carry one.

Nick Buffo

Nick Buffo

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