COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) – A donation of a new use of force tool, the BOLA, could help local law enforcement protect themselves and others without using lethal force when it comes to apprehending suspects.
The BOLA is a super strong cord with metal claws that bind themselves around a suspect’s legs and arms. It, basically, makes it impossible to run away or harm anyone while law enforcement safely takes a person into custody.
“It is definitely a product that can save careers and lives,” said Paul Voorhees, co-founder of Back the Columbus Blue.
Voorhees raised enough money to donate twelve BOLA devices to various public safety departments within the Chattahoochee Valley including the Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Department, and the Muscogee County School District.
”It will help, hopefully, bend the curve down,” said Jed Harris, a former Georgia state legislator who also co-founded Back the Columbus Blue.
Harris says with the murders in Columbus on the rise, 42 as of August 10 of this year, this device could help officers take those who are guilty of committing these acts of violence off the streets safely. Officers could then get them the help they need while incarcerated as opposed to using lethal use of force.
”We always look to make arrests from a standpoint where we are not injuring anyone so we want to do it the best way possible,” said Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon.
Here’s my first hand experience of the BOLA in action – Officers had me wear leg protectors. But when the BOLA went off, the metal barbs that help wrap a suspect caught the grass and did not fully bind my leg – which means I could still get away if I wanted to.
According to the BOLA team, there’s an 80% success rate of the BOLA successfully binding someone. Still, local law enforcement says they are optimistic about possibly utilizing them.
“I think it would be good for the jail environment when we are dealing with mental health inmates. What I love about it is you can use the product and wrap up a suspect,” said Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman.
“Anything that we can get in law enforcement that we can get and assist us in stopping a threat in a non-lethal way is a positive,” said Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley.
Along with the BOLA technology discussed at city council Tuesday was the option of virtual reality law enforcement training where officers would be able to realistically learn how to and when to use use of force tools.
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