Orange County Sheriff’s Office adds non-violent de-escalation tool

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GOSHEN – Police departments have tasers that can be used rather than deadly force in the event of a violent situation, but now the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has added yet another tool to its tool kit to literally stop suspects in their tracks.

The device is called a BolaWrap and an officer can deploy it sending a Kevlar cord at the suspect, wrapping it around his or her legs, or arms and chest, to prevent them from fleeing.

Orange County Undersheriff Kenneth Jones said it is an effective way to de-escalate a situation.

“This is going to give us another non-lethal option in dealing with people we need to take into custody,” he said. “As part of police reform, every agency that seeks excellence is going to continue to expand its non-lethal options in taking people into custody.”

The devices are hand-held and once the cord is deployed, other officers at the scene remove it from the suspect and take him or her into custody.

Also on Thursday, District Attorney David Hoovler’s office conducted training for police officers on de-escalation strategies, designed to teach them how to defuse situations before they can become violent.

Subjects discussed included when and how to use de-escalation techniques, effective verbal and non-verbal communication, recognizing cues that might alert an officer to the need to de-escalate a situation, and police professionalism.

“Rarely, encounters between police and civilians can turn violent, almost never through the fault of the police officer,” said Hoovler. “Of course, any violent confrontation between police and civilians is something to be avoided, regardless of the cause. We are offering this de-escalation training to local police officers, to teach them some strategies to keep situations from becoming violent, to recognize situations that are likely to become violent, and to resolve potentially violent situations before they result in tragedy. Hopefully, through this training we can eliminate even those rare violent police-citizen encounters.”

Training session for local police will continue next week.