It’s a wrap at the Bayfield Marshal’s Office.
A BolaWrap, that is.
Deputies this week demonstrated their new BolaWrap, which allows them to stop a suspect or someone in crisis without having to fire a gun or try a chokehold. The new remote restraining device looks like something from a Batman movie, and deputies said it can be a useful tool.
“It’s something in between a baton and Taser,” said Marshal Joe McIntyre. “This kind of fills that gap.”
Officers can fire the wrap from a range of 10 to 25 feet, and it can be used to wrap around legs, arms and the torso. Small hooks on the end of the Kevlar cord hold the wrap tightly in place after it is fired.
About 540 law enforcement agencies in the United States use the BolaWrap, including 10 in Colorado, McIntyre said. The Marshal’s Office in Bayfield is the first law enforcement agency in Southwest Colorado to deploy the device.
The wrap was demonstrated during the National Night Out on Wednesday in the Bayfield Town Hall parking lot. Town board trustees served hot dogs and chips to visitors, and deputies passed out stickers and tattoos to children, who also rode toy motorcycles.
“The kids had a ball,” said Terri Will of Bayfield, who attended the event with her husband, Kurt, and three of their grandchildren. “They loved getting the tattoos.”
Getting to meet police officers in a casual setting “is a wonderful idea,” she said. “Kids need to see that the officers are really people, too, and how much fun they can be.” With so many images of police being negative, “this shows the positive side of what they do for our community.”
Attendees at the National Night Out gathered to watch the wrap being fired from a yellow case that resembles an elongated measuring tape. When fired, it sounds like a gunshot, shooting the 8-foot tether at 513 feet per second.
The tether is fired from a cartridge, which can be reloaded. The device uses a green laser sight line to assist the officer with aiming and has a range of 10 to 25 feet, according to the BolaWrap website.
In Wednesday’s demonstration on a live deputy from about 20 feet away, the wrap fired, but didn’t wrap around the deputy’s legs. Getting closer to a dummy, a deputy fired two shots, which wrapped securely around the legs and torso.
“That’s really cool,” one woman said after the device was deployed.
Sometimes, the loud sound of the shot is enough to stop someone in their tracks, said Deputy Derick Campbell, one of the two instructors for the device in the Marshal’s Office.
“It’s a neat little tool,” he said, adding it can be useful when dealing with someone who is in a mental health crisis, for example, and is flailing or charging at officers, but hasn’t committed a crime.
“We can have it be over before it escalates,” he said.
Having an option that involves a lower degree of force than batons, guns or Tasers is key to the wrap’s usefulness, said Deputy Dustin Strietzel.
“There’s no pain,” he said of being wrapped. “We can safely take someone into custody or to the hospital.”