Tuesday, June 08, 2021

​BolaWrap: As Seen On TV!

Wow.  When I grow up I wanna be a NCIS cop with a BolaWrap gun.

 

 © 2021 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – 6/8/21

In a previous article I discussed BolaWrap, a less-lethal/nonlethal device that fires Kevlar lines at a human target.  The lines immobilize the target by wrapping around that person, four-pronged barbs holding the lines in place.  This device is intended to safely deal with non-compliant people including the mentally ill.

Now if the barbs dig into thick clothing, no problem.  But the barbs can also dig into bare flesh.  A misfire could mean the lines could wrap around someone's neck instead of the legs.

In a demonstration video there aren’t any problems when someone walks away at a measured pace and is BolaWrapped.   But when someone is running they take a hard fall but fortunately in the video the target is on a soft lawn or sandy area. Someone slamming down on pavement might end up with a busted nose or loose a few teeth.  Is this the way to treat the mentally ill?

The last segment in the video shows a scene from NCIS: Los Angeles, a fictional TV crime show.  BolaWrap also appeared on another CBS police drama, S.W.A.T.  Talk about product placement.  And with TV production you can do a retake if the line wraps around the fleeing suspect’s neck or he takes a hard fall, breaking his jaw.  Save it for the blooper reel.

After stopping the suspect the NCIS agent observes how BolaWrap makes him feel like Batman.  Yup, let’s invoke comic book fantasy.  Some critics have called BolaWrap the Batman lasso.

Critics have observed that using BolaWrap on a mentally ill person is dehumanizing, treating them like an animal.

Coverage of an incident in Buffalo, NY shows the opposing views on BolaWrap.  In what appears to be a news article through GlobeNewsWire there was the successful use of the device when the police were dealing with a woman suffering from a mental health crisis.

"Police say they spoke with the woman for an extended period of time, asking her to get in a police car and receive medical evaluation. The woman refused, which police say prompted them to deploy the Bolawrap.

"The device allowed police to transport her to Erie County Medical Center for evaluation without anyone getting hurt, according to police.”

Note that GlobeNewsWire distributes press releases, not actual news articles that look at all sides of an issue.  GNW’s stated purpose is to disseminate press releases to a maximum audience while increasing SEO.

As for a real news article vice.com covered both sides of the controversy.  The incident in Buffalo included some extra details.

The BolaWrapped woman was only wearing a t-shirt in freezing temps.  A witness told a local news radio station the woman wasn’t given warm clothing or a blanket after she was snared.  The witness added that a mental health professional was on the scene but no attempt was made to calm the woman down, deescalating the situation.

Sometimes it’s worth the effort to read a press release to the very end.  The GlobeNewsWire has a disclaimer entitled Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements – Safe Harbor Statement.  In part this disclaimer tells readers the forward-looking statements can mean risks, the Company’s actual results might be completely different from the Company’s statements.  It goes on to cover all bases including “government regulation,” “defects,” “litigation,” and even “outbreaks of disease.”

Ever see such a disclaimer at the bottom of a news article?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Bad Wrap?


 

© 2021  Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – 5/25/21

Hooks?

The other day WCAX-TV news showed the demonstration of a new non-lethal / less-lethal restraint for when police are dealing with an uncooperative person.

The demo was held at a local fire department with law-enforcement officials and the city mayor in attendance.  The device created by Wrap Technologies is called BolaWrap.  It was inspired by a throwing weapon called bola used to entangle fleeing animals.  A bola is a combination of connected thin cords (usually three) with weights on each end of the cords.  When thrown the bola spins through the air until it makes contact with the target’s legs, wrapping around the legs to immobilize the animal.

BolaWrap is a high tech version of the bola but instead of weights it uses hooks, each one with four prongs, to entangle the target.  The lines are made of Kevlar.

In the videotaped demo Mayor Chris Rosenquest is seen standing still and then there’s a flash-bang, the lines wrapping around his pants, hooks holding the lines in place.

But the mayor was standing still, not running.  Also noted in a front page article in the Press-Republican (weekend print edition May 22 & 23, 2021) the Wrap Technologies representatives asked the mayor to wear thick sweatpants over his normal clothes.  He stated the hooks didn’t hurt.  But what if someone is wearing thin pants or shorts?  I’m guessing that at the high velocity the BolaWrap is fired (513 feet per second) the hooks would find it easy to penetrate soft flesh.  The BolaWrap trainer during the demonstration mentioned that flaw.  Also when the person is wrapped and stays still, no problem.  But if they try to move the hooks dig in.

During the WCAX news segment a Wrap Technology representative stated that BolaWrap would stop injuries and lawsuits.  If there’s a real screw up I can see someone losing an eye.    (No lawsuit, huh?)

A photo accompanying the PR article shows the mayor standing with his arms crossed on his chest.

The Washington Post mentioned in an article published last year that at one demonstration a police chief got hooked in one of his hands.  He stated: “I had my hands too low and it was my fault.”

According to a Reuters article the electric shock from Tasers killed 49 people in 2018. The search is on for a less deadly device.

It’s commendable that the recent effort for police reform is considering other non-lethal / less-lethal devices to control a noncompliant person.  Wrap Technologies says their device can be used to restrain a mental ill person or someone on street drugs..  I can imagine how a severely agitated mentally person or drug user would react when trapped by a BolaWrap.  Instead of spending more money on high tech devices governmental entities should use their funds to support mental health services.


Sources:

“As death toll keeps rising, US. communities start rethinking Taser use”  Reuters  https://reut.rs/3hSYOya

“NY authorities demo alternative use-of-force tool”  WCAX-TV news  https://bit.ly/3casRhd  

“That's a wrap: Police see demonstration of BolaWrap restraint device”  Press-Republican (online version)  https://bit.ly/3uif3Y5  

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Take A Walk On The Wild Dark Side

 



© 2021 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – 05/07/21

Jim Kobak’s art captures your attention, images creating haunting impressions.

Friday evening the Strand Center for the Arts held a reception for an exhibit of his phantasmagorical portraits and other eldritch paintings.  The exhibit will be on display until May 28th.  Contact SCA at Info@StrandCenter.org or call (518) 563-1604 for more information.


 Artist Jim Kobak (left) views some digital images.
 
 


Friday, May 07, 2021

Voted As Most Improved Newspaper in Publisher’s Network

By Luke T. Bush


The Press Republican beat out 90 other newspapers in the CNHI, LCC chain for showing the best improvement: https://bit.ly/33oGKTQ

Here’s evidence of how they’ve improved with this item about two people being transported to the hospital:

The headline as written implies that only one person should ride a boar at a time or face danger.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Walking Advertisement

 

 
Do you like walking around giving free advertising for a corporation?  I only saw the front view of the jacket on the Columbia website.  After I opened up the package I found COLUMBIA emblazoned on the back in large letters with its logo.


Returning to the website I discovered I was supposed to hover the cursor on the  image to see the back view.  Next time I'll be more cautious.