PORTLAND, Maine — Local police got a firsthand look at a non-lethal restraint device that shoots a thin cord around a suspect’s legs or arms, disabling them.

Representatives from the BolaWrap company fired the device at a dummy, as well as police officers and one member of the media at City Hall on Wednesday morning. Representatives from the city, as well as Yarmouth and Scarborough, were on hand to watch and potentially evaluate the product. Officers in Auburn reportedly got a demonstration on Tuesday.

The BolaWrap is a handheld device that uses a partial blank forearm round to propel a nearly eight-foot length of Kevlar cord up to 25 feet at 513 feet per second. The cord has a claimed strength of 230 pounds and sports size-10 fish hooks at either end to anchor it to a suspect’s clothing or skin.

BolaWrap representatives likened the device to the webs shot by Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Citing recent high-profile national cases of suspects in mental health crisis, they described the wrap as safer than a taser for both officers and suspects.

Clockwise from left: A piece of Kevlar string, tipped with fish hooks, sits on a table during a BolaWrap demonstration in Portland on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The non-lethal restraint device was being pitched to local law enforcement agencies; A BolaWrap device sits on a table; A nearly eight-foot length of Kevlar string is wrapped a around a man’s legs. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The lightweight aluminum device can be hung on an officer’s belt and comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, green, blue and black. Each one comes with a price tag of nearly $1,000 and $30 per-round.

BolaWrap said more than 400 departments around the country are already using their product in 48 states. The company would not say if any Maine department is using their device.

Portland Police spokesperson David Singer said the department has no plans to purchase or test the BolaWrap in the field just yet. They were only on hand for the demonstration and a later private training.

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.