New restraining device that doesn’t use force could be used by local law enforcement agencies

Law enforcement agencies in the Austin area are looking into a new device to restrain individuals without using force or pain.

"It uses centrifugal force to basically wrap that individual, but there's a site, a surprise, a sound, and a sensation that will totally change behavior. And so there's a distraction factor, but there's also an immobilization factor," Wrap Technologies President Kevin Mullins said.

The creators of the BolaWrap said it’s a tool for law enforcement to use that doesn’t involve force.

"Historically, everything we've given officers on their belt hurts people. It's designed to create pain and the bola wrap does not do that," Retired Seguin Police Chief Terry Nichols said.

The president of Wrap Technologies said it can be especially helpful with someone experiencing a mental health crisis, stating an individual with untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement.

"There is an issue with individuals with mental health conditions who are experiencing mental health crises finding themselves in dangerous situations and all too often law enforcement uses tools that can put a person at risk of harm," National Alliance on Mental Illness Executive Director Greg Hansch said.

This tool can be used instead of tasers and firearms.

"We can safely get people into custody and defuse and de-escalate situations," Nichols said.

About a thousand agencies across the U.S. utilize the BolaWrap and the company is working with agencies in the Austin area as they start preparing their budgets for next year. Williamson County Constable Precinct 3 already has some.

"Very high demand right now with what’s going on in the country about the de-escalation and force avoidance," Nichols said.

The Austin Police Department reported eight officer-involved shootings since the beginning of 2023.