The Jonesboro Police Department on Tuesday were the first in Arkansas to host a demonstration for a device called the Bola Wrap. It has been billed as an alternative for police around the world to detain suspects, especially those in the middle of a mental health crisis.
Rosanne "Roe" Manghisi is a retired New Jersey State Police Captain who now works as Bola Wrap's Director of Public Safety Services. Manghisi conducted a slideshow presentation for the officers at JPD Headquarters.
In her presentation, Manghisi said departments have found that it’s a less painful tool officers can use to stop suspects, especially in situations where verbal de-escalation or pain compliance tools, such as the Taser, may not be effective.
"We know that more than 50% of people that are going thru a mental health crisis, don't always get the help they need,” Manghisi said. “a product like this is a game changer, because it fills that gap.”
The Bola Wrap was developed by Las Vegas-based Wrap Technologies. The plastic device weighs less than 12 oz. Officers load it with a cartridge containing a Kevlar cord with small hooks on both ends.
When the officer fires the device, the cartridge releases the cord, which wraps around the person. It can detain a person 2 to 4 feet away without injuring them.
Lieutenant Kenneth Oldham with the Jonesboro Police Department was the only one to volunteer to get wrapped by the device. Oldham said the experience was fast and the wrap was binding.
“I didn't feel it,” Oldham said, “but once it's there, you're stuck. I couldn't move my arms. You're literally wrapped up with it."
Bola Wrap is distributed in Arkansas and Louisiana by Teeco Safety, Inc. Rafe Jordan, Teeco Vice President, said various locations in Louisiana are currently utilizing the device.
"Jackson Perish Sheriff’s Office last week recently purchased 8 devices,” Jordan said. “The Attorney General's office has just purchased some. And University of New Orleans purchased some."
Jordan also said the Lafayette Police Department is also using the Bola Wrap. He said the department is featured in A&E’s reality TV series Live P.D.
According to Jordan, he said there are plans to hold more demonstrations at other law enforcement agencies in Arkansas, such as Fayetteville and Little Rock.
Meanwhile, Rick Elliot, Jonesboro Chief of Police, said he sees the benefit of his department using the Bola Wrap, but it depends on the department’s budget for fiscal year 2020.
"At this point, my biggest issue would be cost,” Elliot said. “You're looking at about $1,000 per unit, plus the cartridges and everything that goes along with it. Obviously, we won't be able to outfit the whole department, but we'd certainly like to have several units on hand for those critical incidents."
Arkansas has been doing some work to help officers in the state be more prepared to deal with people suffering from a mental crisis, while reducing the state's prison population.
State lawmakers in 2017 passed Act 423, which requires officers to go thru crisis intervention training as part of their certification. The law also established the state's four Crisis Stabilization Units, serving as an alternative method for incarcerating potentially mentally ill offenders while giving them treatment thru a mental health provider.
Content partners Talk Business and Politics reports, the final unit opened in September 2019. The Craighead County Regional CSU is based in Jonesboro and serves 20 counties in Northeast Arkansas.
Jordan said any police department interested in a demonstration for the Bola Wrap can call the Teeco Safety headquarters at 318-424-5176.