Aurora, CO

Aurora Police adopt new restraint system after pilot project

David Heitz
A man in restrained by police with The WRAP.The WRAP by Safe Restraints, Inc.

After a year-long pilot project, Aurora Police adopted a new restraint system designed to quickly and safely contain someone.

The WRAP works by restraining people around the arms, legs and mid-section. The city began looking at safer ways of constraining subjects after its police department was ordered to follow a consent degree.

The WRAP does what its namesake suggests. The most important thing for police officers to do after stopping a combative subject is safely restrain them. The WRAP's various parts allow for fast restraint, beginning with binding the ankles. Other WRAP pieces quickly are deployed to get a combative subject upright and breathing but restrained.

New officers learn how to use the WRAP during their initial training. A team of instructors is working with other officers in the department to train and certify them in the new system, said Lt. Chris Amsler of the police department communications staff.

Police discuss WRAP with advisory team

The department discussed the benefits of the WRAP system with the Community Policing Advisory Team before the pilot program started.

"People are dynamic, and their reactions under stress are as unique as the people themselves," Amsler said. "We encounter compliant individuals every day, just as we also experience people who are determined to resist our efforts to deescalate or be placed under arrest."

The WRAP minimizes injury risk

When people resist arrest, the risk of injury to themselves and first responders increases, Amsler said. The WRAP minimizes that risk. "While still relatively new, we believe there is a great benefit to having this option in the field."

The company that manufactures the WRAP says the device caused no deaths or injuries in the past 19 years.

Amsler said the department appreciated using the WRAP from the beginning.

"Our officers quickly recognized the value of the WRAP, and we have equipped many of the patrol vehicles in all three districts with the restraint system."

Officers can restrain people in violent, combative, or dangerous situations or where there is a risk of escape.

"We have found its use to be effective in achieving its safety objectives of stopping the conflict, swiftly placing the subject in a seated or upright position to allow for respiratory recovery and enabling medical personnel to promptly provide any needed care," Amsler said.

The WRAP replaces the hobble

For 18 months, Aurora examined its use of force policies, including restraints.

The department previously used the hobble, which restrains the subject's legs. Because people restrained with the hobble sometimes have trouble breathing while on the ground, its use has grown controversial.

"While the hobble is still authorized and safe to use, we identified a better solution in the WRAP," Amsler explained.

Police keep a WRAP device in each police district and supervisor vehicles.

"The use of this system allows for quick application and keeps the subject in an upright position, effectively preventing respiratory distress."

On calls, medical staff decides whether the person should be transported to the hospital or processed into jail. "While the person can be transported safely in a patrol vehicle, at this time we have elected to utilize an ambulance for transport while we evaluate this program," Amsler said.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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