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Summerville Police adds new tool to help restrain violent suspects

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 11:36 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 1:01 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Summerville Police say they have added a new restraint device to their arsenal to help them subdue people who are violent or who resist arrest.

Lt. Chris Hirsch said the department is using the BolaWrap device, a remote restraint device used for immobilizing and controlling “resistive or non-compliant persons.” It can also be used on people with known or suspected mental health issues, he said.

The device fires a Kevlar cord with hooks on each end to restrain uncooperative suspects from a distance to avoid possible injury to officers and to help prevent a suspect from injuring themselves or others. The hooks attach to the person’s clothing or skin to help hold them in place so police can safely take them into custody.

“The Summerville Police Department is the first agency in the Tri-County to have these devices in use,” Hirsch said.

The department has five devices purchased with a grant. It is currently seeking another 115 BolaWrap devices through a federal grant program, he said.

“In order for officers to carry this device, they have to successfully complete approved training which will be held annually,” Hirsch said.

“The police department understands the growing concerns of use of force encounters especially when dealing with individuals with a mental health crisis,” Hirsch said. “The BolaWrap device addresses these concerns so officers have another approach to restrain an individual, minimizing harm to the subjects.”

The company says more than 500 police agencies across the U.S. have BolaWrap devices.

Beaufort Police said they used the device in December on a person they described as being in crisis who had armed himselves with pocketknives.

Beaufort Police Cept. George Erdel said officers were able to talk him into dropping the knives, but said he was still not complaint with their instructions.

The officers used the BolaWrap to get the man to the ground without hurting him, police said.

“Given the circumstances, it went about as flawlessly as it could have gone,” Erdel said. “Based on what we were dealing with at the time.”

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