Eureka Police add new gear to officer tool belts
The Eureka Police Department has a new tool designed to keep tense, uncertain situations from escalating.
The BolaWrap 150 is a small, yellow device that looks similar to a stud finder. Its gas-powered cartridges fire an 8-foot Kevlar rope, about as thick as a shoelace, up to 25 feet. Small metal weights at the ends propel the rope to help it wrap around a person’s legs or torso.
According to manufacturer Wrap Technologies, the BolaWrap is used by more than 500 police departments across the country.
Andrew Noyes is one of three officers trained to use it in Eureka, about 20 miles east of Peoria.
“It gets us enough time to maybe get in there and be able to put them in handcuffs, or be able to help them onto a cot or something like that,” he said. “Depending on whether they're a suspect in, you know, a crime that was committed or somebody that's having a mental health crisis.”
While training with the BolaWrap, Noyes had it used on himself several times. He said it makes a loud bang, but is painless. He describes the feeling as similar to having your shoelaces tied together.
“If you think of all the things that you can see on my belt: I've got a taser, I've got a baton, people carry OC spray, people carry pepper balls, stuff like that. All that stuff is pain compliance,” said Noyes. “This is a tool on our belt that is absolutely not pain compliance at all. It’s shock and awe, it’s surprising. But you know, that’s what I love about it. You’re not causing any injury, any pain.”
The department used a donation to purchase two of the battery-operated devices. Noyes said each cost between $900 and $1,000.
The single-use cartridges stay usable for up to five years in storage, or two years being carried by an officer.
As of the time Noyes was interviewed, he said the BolaWrap hadn’t been used in the field by a Eureka officer yet.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It just makes me happy to have something that could actually help somebody, especially in a mental health crisis.”