GREEN RIVER — The Green River Police Department (GRPD) received unanimous approval from the Green River City Council Tuesday to purchase devices known as the BolaWrap, a safer alternative to the Taser, to outfit the entire patrol division.
The company WRAP produces the BolaWrap, which is a non-electronic, less-lethal device that propels a kevlar string that enwraps a subject, either subduing them completely, or restricting their movement enough that officers can safely engage them.
GRPD Capt. Shaun Sturlaugson said the device is helpful in situations where a Taser isn’t appropriate, such as with individuals who are noncompliant, but are not resisting the officer.
“It restricts their movement allowing officers to go hands on with them more safely so that they can maintain control of them in certain situations,” he said.
He said that while the Taser is used in situations where an individual is fighting the officer, there are limitations to how and when a Taser should be used.
“WRAP’s initial intent with this device was to provide something that would help with noncompliant individuals who aren’t resisting. Which is something the Taser kind of fails with… there are limitations to it. I think that the result of this device is that it has provided something that fills the hole between going hands on with a subject and using a Taser,” Sturlaugson said. “That’s important for us because there are certain situations where Tasers aren’t appropriate or are dangerous, and going hands on is always not the safest option for us or the subject that we’re going hands on with.”
The times when the BolaWrap really comes into play is when officers are responding to a person with mental illness or are having a mental health crisis.
“The importance of this device in filling that hole has really come to light lately in terms of its use on subjects in mental health crisis. When somebody is suicidal and is noncompliant with us but isn’t actively fighting us, or someone who has a mental illness and doesn’t know what’s going on, those situations are obviously not appropriate for Taser usage. But there hasn’t been anything in recent years to fill that hole to help us until BolaWrap came along.”
Sturlaugson said the GRPD purchased four BolaWrap devices a couple years ago to test them out, and because they didn’t have the budget to get one for every patrol officer at that time. The four devices allowed them to have one BolaWrap per patrol shift.
“It’s great to have one, but 90 percent of the time it seems that when you need one, the guy that needs it is on the north side of town and the guy who has it is on the south side of town. We’re impressed enough with it that we would like to outfit the entire patrol division with one for each individual officer,” he said.
The total cost for the devices and cassettes is $12,700. The funds for this purchase is being moved from the Asset Seizure Account to the regular patrol budget.