LOS ANGELES - The LAPD has a new gadget in its effort to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings and save lives. It looks a lot like a lasso and is reportedly less lethal, but critics of the police aren't sold just yet.
The demonstration at the LAPD Academy was quick. You heard a bang, then a thin 8 foot long cord wrapped around Police Chief Michel Moore's legs.
He had been hit with a 'Bola Wrap', a new less than lethal weapon the LAPD is now testing department wide.
The idea is to shoot the tether at a suspects arms or legs, and it wraps around them, immobilizes them, allowing police to, theoretically, move in for an arrest without being in danger, and without the suspect being hurt.
"Nothing is perfect" Moore said, in front a large number of reporters and cameras called to watch the demo, but he's optimistic this will be a valuable addition to the less than lethal arsenal already including tasers, pepper balls that disperse a tear gas like substance, and beanbag rounds fired from a shotgun.
To our untrained eye, it seems pretty simple. An officer discharges the cord from a small hand held device about the size of an electric razor, and if it works as designed, a suspect can't move, almost as if they had been instantly lassoed.
This 'Bola Wrap' has been in use in smaller departments around the country for about a year.
The manufacturers, former law enforcement officers who worked with s San Diego inventor to market it, say it's designed primarily to take suspects dealing with mental health issues into custody, and so far it's worked well.
However, one person I spoke with questions whether this is even needed at all. Eric Miller is a LMU Loyola Law School professor who says authorities already have enough tools at their disposal, what they need is more emphasis on de-escalation and on mental health training.
He also thinks there should be more specialized mental health units that can respond to incident.
Miller also acknowledges that policing is sometimes a dangerous job and doesn't always unfold smoothly the way things are designed.