Daytona Beach, FL -
A hand-held gun designed to not kill or hurt suspects wanted by the police could soon be in the hands of your local officer or deputy.
High-ranking members of various Daytona Beach area police departments were on hand today (January 30th) at Daytona Beach Police Department headquarters for a special presentation of the "BolaWrap 100
", a weapon which shoots a thin yellow Kevlar rope with barbs on each end meant to wrap around suspects police want to take into custody.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood offered himself up as a guinea pig during the demonstration, allowing company officials to shoot two "cartridges" at him while pretending to be a suspect.
Afterward, the Sheriff said he planned to invest in a few of the BolaWraps, calling it a tool that could save people's lives in the right situation without causing serious injury or damage to anyone.
"You don't feel anything," Chitwood said about getting "shot" by the BolaWrap. "The only thing I really felt was when the hook went into my calf."
Chitwood thought it could really come in handy when law enforcement have to deal with mentally ill or suicidal people since they often are dangers only to themselves.
"Once that thing is fired, the shock and awe lasts a couple seconds and you're on top of the individual," Chitwood noted. "He's disarmed. He's taken into custody. Not shot and killed."
Daytona Beach Police Department Chief Craig Capri - who got to fire a round at a mannequin after Chitwood's legs were freed from the rope - also said he planned to buy some of the BolaWraps, which are technically considered a gun by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"It's another tool to put into our toolbox, especially when you deal with all the mental illness calls we deal with here," Capri noted.
Members of the police departments of New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach and Bunnell were also on hand for the demonstration, as were Volusia County Beach Safety officials.
The BolaWrap - which is roughly the size of a Taser - costs around $900 per unit, with its cartridges going for around $40 a piece.
The company which makes it says the rope can handle up to 380 pounds, is fired at 640 feet a second and works best when there's around 15 feet or so of space between the officer and the suspect.
A trained user can load a cartridge between three and eight seconds, according to a brochure provided by BolaWrap. The decibel level of the weapon is between 105 and 110, roughly the same as a gun which fires actual bullets.
At least 32 police departments nationwide have used the BolaWrap in the field, including three in Florida, all of them in the South Florida area. Another 14 across the country - including DBPD - are in the internal testing phase.
Any purchases made by DBPD would have to receive City Commission approval, per Capri. Chitwood says he will consider buying as many as he can without having to go through the Volusia County Council for direct approval.