Savannah Police have new equipment to better help people with mental health issues

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Police department (SPD) says it is changing with the times — and joining more than 200 other agencies — with a new piece of equipment called BolaWrap. Police say BolaWrap is a painless replacement for guns, tasers, and more.

“If you have multiple officers on the scene, it’s important that there are other options there to help save a life,” said Don De Lucca, a safety ambassador for BolaWrap Technology.

Units deploy a strong piece of cord that wraps around a person’s arms or legs. Fish hooks keep it in place. Police say it’s painless.

“It can reduce injuries and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Savannah Police Captain Alex Tobar, who works with the department’s training unit.

An ear-piercing sound also plays a role in the unit’s deployment process.

“That bang is going to disorient somebody,” said De Lucca. “They don’t know what happened, they look down and in the end, you’ve secured somebody tightly either around their legs or around their arms.”

Police say that is especially useful when they are dealing with and helping people who are going through a mental health crisis.

“Sometimes they’re going to react in a way, in a manner that could be concerning, it could be dangerous to other people, so using this device…it can safeguard a life in a way that we can respond to a situation in a humane manner that at the end of the day can lead to a positive outcome,” said Cpt. Tobar.

So far, SPD has two units for two officers in the behavioral health unit. Each unit costs the department about $900. SPD hopes to train officers and approve related policies within the next month.

Cpt. Tobar says there is no plan yet to give one to every officer. Right now, the department is focusing on the needs of the behavioral health unit.

“It adds the ability for us to diminish the risks that are normally there when we have a person going through the crisis. By using this tool, we hope to do that. And if we can just use it one time, that’s one less person, that’s one less chance that we took,” said Cpt. Tobar.

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