SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Police Department (SPD) is looking for ways to improve the methods used to restrain people who become aggressive when being taken into custody. It believes a new tool from Safe Restraints, Inc. may be the answer.
On Wednesday, SPD ordered 40 "WRAP restraints" with protective helmets and 200 ankle straps. Spokane City Council gave SPD approval on the $76,300 purchase at its May 15 meeting.
Compared to other methods, the department said the WRAP restraint is intended to reduce the likelihood of injury to the suspect and arresting officers.
SPD gave a demonstration of the WRAP restraint at the city's March 6th public safety committee meeting. Officers said the restraint is a safer alternative. It would be primarily used on a suspect already in handcuffs and who becomes "out of control."
According to SPD, the new restraint tool protects the suspect from doing things that are going to harm an officer, another citizen or themselves. SPD also reassured city council, the restrain system puts no restrictions on the suspect's diaphragm.
Once the individual is in the WRAP restraint system, officers can transfer them into a patrol car and know they are immobilized. This keeps the individuals from hitting themselves or kicking the doors or windows.
During public comment at city council's May 15th meeting, local police accountability advocates said they support the intent of this new tool. But they would like to see metrics in place that can track whether it's working and keeping people safe.
Anwar Peace serves on the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability. While he appreciates the intent of the new tool, he would have liked to see additional demonstrations for the community before the city council's approval.
"If they had a proper demonstration of the tool and a real-life scenario, that would also better educate counsel on these matters," Peace said.
City council members collectively agreed with the idea of tracking the impacts of these new restraints and their effectiveness. That's something they will be expecting from SPD quarterly.
According to a Public Safety committee briefing paper, the city was awarded $889,807 to assist with one-time costs related to law enforcement and criminal justice legislation enacted between January 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. SPD is using $76,300 of the remaining $223,266 to purchase the WRAP restraint system.
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