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Virginia, MN Police Praise Use Of New BolaWrap Tool

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - As law enforcement agencies across the country evaluate their use-of-force protocols, a Minnesota police department is praising a new tool they're using.

On Nov. 8, a hospital in Virginia, Minnesota called police to say they were concerned about a patient who had escaped a mental health hold.

When he wouldn't listen to officers' commands, they shot him with a BolaWrap.

It's an eight-foot long Kevlar cord that wrapped around the man's arms in a non-lethal way, allowing officers to safely handcuff him and get him back to the hospital.

"You take the scissors afterwards and basically cut off the Kevlar cord that wraps around, they got the individual unharmed, unscathed, up to where they needed to get him help," said Virginia Police Chief Nicole Young-Mattson.

Young-Mattson bought the restraint device a year ago. The cord is shot when the officer is about 10 to 25 feet away from someone. It has hooks on each end and comes out of the device at about 640 feet a second.

"It works. No doubt about it," said Young-Mattson.

She likes that there is minimal use of force. Her department is now one of 15 in the state using BolaWraps.

While it won't work in every situation, Young-Mattson likes that it doesn't rely on pain for compliance.

"Everyone goes home safe, unharmed, it's minimal pain compliance, minimal injury, it's another tool I feel every officer should have on their duty belt," said Young-Mattson.

Minneapolis police have tested BolaWraps and do not plan to use them going forward. According to a police spokesperson, the device was was deployed twice in testing and failed both times. All of the department's BolaWraps have been returned to the manufacturer.

So far, St. Paul Police are not using the device.

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