During Tuesday morning’s meeting, the Brownwood City Council unanimously approved the purchase of nine BolaWrap devices for the Police Department, at a cost of $15,138.92.
The funding comes from a global opioid settlement that had been reached with the major opioid distributors McKesson, Carninal Health, Amerisource Bergen, and Johnson and Johnson. Brownwood’s portion of the fund consists of $52,000.
The BolaWrap remote restraint device was invented specifically to address the needs of law enforcement in safely and humanely detaining persons in crisis without relying on traditional pain compliance tools. The BolaWrap is a handheld device that deploys a 7-foot Kevlar cord to entangle a person, creating confusion and a window of opportunity for officers to quickly detain them without the infliction of pain.
Traditionally, law enforcement officers relied on pain compliance tools and techniques to detain a person in crisis who was combative. This includes pepper spray, tasers, metal batons, and empty-hand tactics. However, the use of these weapons is often not successful with someone in crisis as they do not feel pain or are under the influence of substances making them oblivious to pain compliance techniques. Unfortunately, some of these encounters end in the use of deadly force by law enforcement when less lethal options fail.
“It is a device that can be used from a similar distance as a Taser, but it is intended to be less violent and cause less injury to the person,” said Brownwood City Manager Emily Crawford. “The reason we are using Opioid settlement funds for this is we do encounter people who are in the middle of the crisis that may be drug induced so we want to make sure we’re not harming our police officers or that citizen by using more violent tactics.”
Brownwood Police Chief Ed Kading told Council during the meeting that the rechargeable device is slightly bigger than a cell phone, contains an aiming light, is brightly colored as to not be confused for a firearm, and has a range of 25 feet. The cost also includes training, cartridges and extra cartridges to be loaded in to the device. Two devices will be distributed for each patrol shift, and one will be deployed at the municipal court.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the Council unanimously approved the City to seek competitive sealed bids for the reconstruction of the Coggin Park Walking Trail.
A new 8-foot wide, concrete sidewalk will be constructed to replace the existing walking trail components. The new sidewalk will be approximately a half-mile long and will replace part of the newer and older portions of the existing walking trail. City staff would demolish the existing walking trail before the contractor began construction of the new trail to help save money on the project. This project is part of an overall capital improvement project in Coggin Park that also includes the renovation of the tennis and pickleball courts.
“We believe this will be Phase 1 of the Walking Trail project as we would like to continue to add loops to that trail within Coggin Park, but at this point this is what we were able to afford in our budget this year,” Crawford said. “We’ll begin that project and have it finished by the end of the summer.”
Tuesday’s Council meeting began with Walker Willey (Ward 5), Ed McMillian (Ward 2) and Melody Nowowiejski (Ward 3) being sworn in to office for another term, as none of the three were opposed during the May 6 election.