SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose police may soon be deploying some Batman-style technology to stop suspects in their tracks.
It’s called the “bola wrap” — a high-tech version of an old-fashioned throwing weapon used to capture cattle.
The device looks like a cross between a remote control and an electric razor. It shoots two metal pellets with hooks on the end, connected by a Kevlar string. You just load the cartridge, point the laser, and push the trigger. The pellets are shot out using a 9mm half-charge blank, going 380 feet per second – about one quarter the speed of a 9mm bullet.
The pellets swing around on the eight-foot string, until the hooks catch onto the clothing. The idea is to restrain the suspect, or at the very least slow them down.
Bolas have been used for centuries by Inuit hunters, and later by the gauchos of South America, to entangle the legs of prey. Since then, bolas have been glamorized by Hollywood, popping up in movies and on TV for generations.
The San Jose Police Department is the latest to join 45 other departments around the country that are testing the bola wrap, and the consensus seems to be thumbs up. “So far, seems that everybody’s happy, and the reason I know that is they are actually having us investigate and look into what these can do for us,” said Officer Jill Ferrante.
Ferrante also tested the device on this reporter and it worked as advertised. The sound is startling and it works in an instant. If a suspect tried to remove the hooks, it would likely distract them long enough and buy an officer a precious few seconds to take a suspect down.
In the case of reporter Kiet Do, the hooks punctured his jeans, and broke some skin.
“People have asked, ‘Well, what’s good about it?’” said Ferrante. “Well, you know, if your other option is getting tased or shot, I would take the bola wrap.”
The Las Vegas-based company that makes the Bola Wrap tells us no police department has deployed it in the field just yet.
The bola wrap costs $800 plus $30 per cartridge.