Seattle police have a wide range of non-lethal force options

Seattle police have a wide range of non-lethal force options
Seattle police have a wide range of non-lethal force options

The BolaWrap® Remote Restraint Device, is a patented, hand-held device that deploys a Kevlar® tether to temporarily hold resistant individuals at a safe distance, safely and humanely restraining them without relying on pain compliant tools.

The use of deadly force in law enforcement is frankly something most police would rather not do.

The fact is, however, that people suffering from a mental health crisis, others who appear to be under the influence of drugs and obviously those who pose a danger to themselves or others, present situations that often only the police can handle.

But police use of force often makes national headlines when a suspect dies in police custody because weapons are involved and other options are not possible.

In 2012, a number of groups asked the federal Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate grossly excessive force, overpolicing and biased police incidents in Seattle. It led to a consent decree with the Ministry of Justice regarding the use of force guidelines that lasted until 2018 when they were found to be in “full and effective” compliance.

Under one maintenance agreement the city provides quarterly reports through SPD’s Audit, Policy and Research Section. The rules for the use of force are very strict.

The question is obvious.

What other options do police have to contain, de-escalate, or otherwise control the situation and bring it to a resolution?

After a recent Public Safety Roundtable meeting in West Seattle, Police Chief Adrian Diaz said that, pending some negotiations, the next generation of two of those tools will come online, likely within the next 60 days. One of these is Bola wrap. It is a device that uses a compressed air charge to fire two hooks, connected by a kevlar cord, that wrap around a subject’s legs or torso, effectively immobilizing them. It has proven effective across the country in several jurisdictions, and is even deployed here locally (but not used yet) by the Normandy Park Police Department.

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According to Seattle Police Detective Judinna J. Gulpan Public Information Officer, SPD Public Affairs

“BolaWrap is a program that is not currently active in the department. The launch of the new less lethal tool is under negotiation with SPOG and our policy unit with an unknown resolution time.

The department had trained officers only in 2022 as part of the pilot program and has not adopted the new tool. Any further purchases of BolaWrap are dependent on the overall success of the pilot program if it is ever fully implemented.”

Further information can be found at:

Also available for use by SPD officers are “foam” bullets. Detective Gulpan explained.

40mm Less Lethal Launcher:

The “foam” equipment is the Defense Technology 40mm Exact Impact Sponge Round, deployed from a 40mm less lethal launcher:

“eXact iMpact™ 40mm sponge round is a direct fire aim and hit point. This lightweight, high-velocity projectile consists of a plastic body and a sponge nose that is spin stabilized via the integral rifle collar and the rifled barrel of the 40mm launcher. The round uses smokeless powder as a propellant, and therefore has extremely consistent velocities. Used for Crowd Control, Patrol and tactical applications.”

The department currently has around 45 units operational in the field, with an additional 50 units on order with an estimated arrival in the fall of 2023.

  • Only officers who have been trained with the Seattle Police Department are allowed to use the 40mm Less Lethal Launcher.
  • Officers may only use 40mm LL Impact Munitions (LLIM) in a manner consistent with the Seattle Police Use of Force Policy and training provided by the Department.
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Additional information can be found at: WWW.Defense-Technology.Com “

To learn more about the SPD guidelines – Using power tools: See this link.

Chief Diaz said the next generation of Tasers will also be deployed.

The Taser 10 is different from older models:

  • including a pulsating 1000 lumen light, loud audible alerts and LASER paint to warn a person to comply before they have to deploy probes.
  • A longer range of up to 45 feetcompared to only 25 feet previously,
  • The ability to deploy up to 10 probes compared to four probes previously, which only gave one or two opportunities to be effective. The device also has a different tone when a good connection is established, alerting the officer.
  • Individually targeted probes enables the user to create their own spread, compared to the previous need to deploy two probes simultaneously at a predefined angle. This drastically improves accuracy and efficiency, expanding the scenarios in which it can be used.

Electroshock weapons:

Tasers can be used in the following circumstances:

  • When an individual causes an immediate threat of harm to a person.
  • When public safety interests dictate that a subject must be taken into custody and the level of resistance presented by the subject is:
    • (1) is likely to cause injury to the officer or subject; and
    • (2) if practical control tactics or other force options are likely to cause greater harm to the subject than the use of the TASER.
  • When a TASER is used against a subject, either in probe or drive stun mode, it will be on a standard discharge cycle of five seconds or less, and the officer using the TASER must reassess the situation. Only the minimum number of five second cycles necessary to place the subject in custody will be used.

The department currently has approximately 264 tasers deployed among patrol, CRG, SWAT and other units. The AXON Taser X26 is nearing the end of its life and we are looking at either the Taser 7 or Taser 10 models to replace the existing model in use in late 2023.

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Additional information is available at: AXON.Com

The policy behind their use is to give officers other tools to help them take physical control of an aggressive, resistant, or uncooperative subject. In addition, these less lethal tools provide greater de-escalation capabilities through the use of time and distance; and minimize harm to community members and officers.

The Intended Purpose of Less Lethal Weapons

“Less-lethal weapons are used to interrupt a subject’s threatening behavior, allowing officers to take physical control of the subject with less risk of harm to the subject or the officer than greater uses of force. Less lethal weapons alone cannot be expected to neutralize an object. Support officers will be prepared to take immediate action to take advantage of the brief opportunity created by the less-lethal weapon and take control of the subject if it is safe to do so.”

In addition to these tools, the Seattle Police Department may also use:

– Patrols Canine

– Percussive weapons

– Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray

– Vehicle-related force tactics

– Special unit weapon

– Hobble restraint

– Blast balls

– 40mm Less Lethal Launcher

– Pepperball Launcher

– Stationary tire deflation unit

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