Westminster Police Department tests new humane restraint technology

By Rebecca D’Auria

As Westminster Police Department’s Chief Ralph Ornelas handed out ear plugs, he smiled and said, “Trust me, you are definitely going to want to use these.”

Silence filled the Westminster Police Department training facility as reporters and photographers stood back in anticipation.

The Westminster Police Department could be the first department in Orange County to start using BolaWrap, a new handheld device that could result in fewer officer-involved shootings. The device fires an eight-foot bola-style Kevlar tether to entangle a noncompliant suspect.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

All eyes were locked on David Norris, CEO of BolaWrap, as he loaded the BolaWrap 100 into a dispenser and used the embedded laser pointer to select a target area. Seconds later everyone jumped as a loud noise echoed throughout the room.

Before anyone could figure out what had just happened, gazes quickly moved to the test mannequin. There, the previously free mannequin stood with BolaWrap 100 neatly secured around its arms and chest.

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas is interviewed by news media after a demonstration of BolaWrap, a handheld device that could result in fewer officer-involved shootings.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

Wrap Technologies’ latest invention is BolaWrap 100, a non-lethal remote device. The BolaWrap works by safely targeting and wrapping a suspect’s arms or legs using eight-foot bola-style Kevlar rope to entangle an individual within a range of 10 to 25 feet. At the end of both sides of the rope, using tiny fish hook-like prongs, the BolaWrap latches onto the subject’s clothing.

An eight-foot bola-style Kevlar tether restrains a man during a demonstration of the Bola Wrap, a new non-lethal technology.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

The design for BolaWrap 100 was inspired by law enforcement and aims to limit the need for potentially injurious lethal force.

The Westminster Police Department found itself on the front lines of modern policing during the demonstration of the BolaWrap 100 on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Cartridges used in the BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

“With the progression of law enforcement, you have to learn to change, or else you become a dinosaur,” Ornelas said. “We don’t want to end up like them because we all know what happened to the dinosaurs – they became extinct.”

During the demonstration, police managers loaded BolaWrap 100 into a dispenser remote, used a laser to target where the wrap would land, took off the safety lock, hit deploy, and within seconds the wrap shot out, entangling the live test subject’s arms and legs without injury.

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas’ department could be the first in Orange County to start using the BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

If the loud sound isn’t enough to stop a suspect, the tight BolaWrap 100 restraining a person’s arms or legs undoubtedly will.

“Police deal with crisis situations all the time but haven’t always had the right tools,” said Donald De Lucca, ambassador of public safety for BolaWrap. “We want to give them some…and ones that are safe for both police and subject involved.”

A mannequin is wrapped in a Kevlar tether during a demonstration.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

The wrap is compact, light, and easy to use, but extremely sturdy and gives officers an alternative to a potentially violent encounter.

“I care about the officers and I care about our community.” Ornelas said. “I feel I have an obligation to give them all the right tools.”

Ornelas explained how BolaWrap 100 could be useful when officers encounter an intoxicated or mentally ill suspect who is not compliant. These types of suspects can pose a significant risk not only to officers, but to the public and to themselves as well.

Westminster could be the first police department in Orange County to start using the BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

“In any of those types of situations it would be useful to have another tool, especially one that is safe and doesn’t cause pain,” Ornelas said. “It is my job to make sure both the suspect and officer go home…so this is a great option.”

After the BolaWrap 100 demonstration, the product is now in review to possibly be used at the Westminster Police Department.

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas talks about a new handheld device.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

Westminster Police Chief Ralph Ornelas, right, and Mike Rothmans, senior vice president of Wrap Technologies, during a demonstration of BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

A mannequin is wrapped in a Kevlar tether during a demonstration of BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

Mike Rothmans, senior vice president of Wrap Technologies, addresses law enforcement at the Westminster Police Department training facility during a demonstration.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge

A Kevlar tether is cut off during a demonstration of BolaWrap.
Photo by Christine Cotter/Behind the Badge