Police in the D.C. area and around the world are testing a new kind of electronic lasso designed to take down a suspect without hurting them.
It’s called a BolaWrap and looks a little like something Wonder Woman or Spider-Man might have dreamed up. A handheld device that looks like a Taser shoots cord as far as 25 feet that wraps around a suspect's legs.
In Maryland, the Landover Hills Police Department recently ordered the weapon for every officer. Police in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are looking at the devices too.
News4 watched a demonstration on Tuesday in Landover Hills.
“You’re immobilized temporarily enough, hopefully, that officers can get to you, get you under control and apprehended with as little injury as possible,” Chief Robert Liberati said.
Police have used non-lethal weapons such as Tasers and pepper spray for years. BolaWrap instructor Lindey Markert said this device is different.
“It’s not a pain compliance tool. A lot of other things on our belts — OC spray, a baton and a Taser — rely on pain to stop somebody,” she said.
While the BolaWrap is not intended to be painful, there are small hooks at the end of its cord that can pierce the skin.
Not everyone thinks the wraps are a good idea. Civil rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Black Lives Matter have come out against the idea, saying they’re more likely to be used against minorities and people with mental health issues. Police should be trained in de-escalation tactics, not be given more weapons, they say.
Liberati said both are priorities.
“When you’ve got someone who's violent or resistive or combative, these are things we can use to get that person under control with as little injury as possible,” he said