Grant helps Springfield buy more nonlethal BoloWrap restraints

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SPRINGFIELD — City police officers will expand their inventory of nonlethal BolaWrap restraint devices using a new federal grant.

Springfield will receive $49,982 from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno’s office said in a statement. The money will purchase BolaWrap devices, nonlethal BolaWrap cassettes — which are the cartridges that launch the nonlethal restraint — and training for 108 officers and supervisors.

About the size of a TV remote, BolaWrap launchers cost $800 to $1,000 each. The cassettes — which work like the devices that deploy car airbags and sound like the crack of a .22 rifle — run about $200.

The Springfield Police Department bought a dozen BolaWraps earlier this year, along with cartridges for both training and deployments, for a one-time fee of $21,500.

Springfield police have yet to use the BolaWrap in the field, said department spokesman Ryan Walsh on Tuesday. But only 30 officers are equipped with them and trained in their use.

The tool is only used in specific situations to control subjects who are standing up, not in danger of falling but are in danger of harming themselves or those around them.

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The device shoots a 6-foot Kevlar cord anchored by two weighted fish hook-like spines. The cord wraps around the person, pinning either the arms or the legs, while the hooks dig into clothing or skin.

The devices take their name from the bola, a traditional weapon of cords with weights that South American gauchos used to catch cattle.

The department is following statewide guidelines in their use.

The BolaWrap is used by 900 police agencies around the world, including Pittsfield.

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