St. Joseph County Police using new tool to wrap up suspects

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 5:42 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - When an officer is confronted by a suspect, they have a split second to make a decision.

“We want our officers to make they are making the right choices,” St. Joseph County Police Sgt. Daniel Banicki says.

Sometimes, those decisions include deploying a taser. Other times, it means drawing a handgun. Now for the St. Joseph County Police Department, it could mean utilizing a less-than-lethal option called BolaWrap.

“It’s going to be a great device for us. It’s going take somebody that we possibly can go hands on with and make it to where we can use this device and safely do it,” Banicki says.

The device was introduced to SJCPD in September of 2020, and then purchased by the department months later. On Wednesday, several officers took part in BolaWrap training sessions in effort to be certified to use the device.

It is designed to wrap the suspect in Kevlar tether that stretches eight feet long and is anchored by two weighted hooks -- ones that wraps around an individual once the BolaWrap is discharged.

“During our course we instruct, we tell everyone to go from the knee down or from the elbows to the wrist. We don’t want to hurt anybody. We want to help protect our people in the public, especially if someone has a mental health issue and this is going to maybe help resolve that without going hands on, without hurting them or the officer,” Banicki says.

Acoording to SJCPD, nine officers are already equipped with the BolaWrap device. The end goal is to equip 25 total. And although the 25 BolaWrap units, their holsters, along with the supply of their cartridges, costed the department $30,035 to purchase, the department says it is difficult to put a price on safety.

“They’re not cheap but at the end of the day, if we can keep somebody, an officer, somebody from the general public, a citizen, if we can keep them from being hurt, killed, or anything else, it’s worth it at the end of the day,” Banicki says.

SJCPD says they have had a couple of close calls but have not had to deploy the BolaWrap device in the field up until this point. All SJCPD officers are expected to be fully trained to use the Bolawrap device by the end of this week.

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