SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Officers with the University of Utah’s Department of Public Safety are trading out their nightsticks for a different method of restraining those not listening to police commands.
The peace officers will begin carrying “BolaWraps,” which they describe as “remote handcuffs.” The tether, which looks like a long string with weights on either end, can be fired from a distance of up to 25 feet from a handheld device.
It can be used to restrict a person’s movement, giving officers time to safely approach and gain control without the need for violence.
University Public Safety said the Bola Wrap was designed to be used on “non-compliant” people who need to be detained but aren’t responding to verbal commands. It can be used to restrain someone who is threatening officers with violence or someone who is in a violent emotional or mental crisis. In both cases, the BolaWrap provides officers an option to safely restrain individuals and help give them the help they need.
“Our goal is always to help, not to hurt,” said University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Keith Squires. “BolaWraps help us achieve this goal by giving our officers a way to safely deescalate a potentially dangerous situation using as little force as possible, providing individuals the help they need and maintaining the wellbeing of everyone involved.”
According to a release from the U of U Department of Public Safety, all the officers at the U have undergone training so they can use the tool “effectively and safely.”
A video posted by the University of Utah shows the Bola Wrap in action. In the video, Squiers explained the Bola Wrap before a U of U peace officer fired the wrap toward his legs. The wrap quickly entangled around Squires’ legs just above the knee, slowing his movement.
Squires said the Department of Public Safety is constantly looking for innovative ways to improve safety measures on campus.
The decision to make the switch to BolaWraps was reportedly made earlier this year after leaders in the Department of Public Safety reviewed the tragic footage of the brutal beating and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
Shortly after the footage was released, the U of U Department of Public Safety announced it would no longer use nightsticks on campus.