BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - They’re on the rise--the number of encounters police officers have with those who are mentally ill.
There’s been much debate on how to handle those encounters. A device called Bola Wrap 100 seeks to provide a solution.
“This is a different type tool, a new type of tool, that deals with restraint, not pain,” says Mike Rothans, VP of Wrap Technologies, which makes the device.
Monday, Rothans showed Birmingham Police officers how the device works. It uses a remote device to fire an eight-foot Kevlar cord as far away as 25 feet to wrap or entangle an individual who may be resisting arrest.
“These are individuals suffering from a mental health issue and need to be dealt with in a more humane way,” Rothans says. “And wrapping them up, giving them and officers time to react is a much more humane way in dealing with the situation.”
“We want to create opportunities where we can take them into custody without the use of force or doing something violent or the appearance of something violent,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith says.
He adds the device can be used not only for those suffering from mental illness, but also for someone carrying a weapon, such as a knife.
“And most importantly, we don’t have to use an OC spray that’s going to impact the eyes and nasal passages and we don’t have to use a taser where darts are inserted into one’s skin.”
Smith says the department’s training unit will use the device first. They’ll practice and evaluate it. Once that’s done, they’ll then train other officers to use it in the field.