'Remote Handcuff' Firm Criticized for Its Use of Bodycam Footage
At a time when remote work and contactless solutions are a necessity in many parts of the world, a firm called Wrap is marketing its remote "handcuffing" device using bodycam footage provided by cops.
As a report by Daily Dot points out, cops have been handing over their bodycam footage in exchange for a free BolaWrap, a device that fires an electric lasso to restrain resisting individuals.
The BolaWrap, which is marketed as a way to "humanely" restrain resistors, uses gunpowder to propel an eight-foot (2.43 m) Kevlar tether with barbed metal hooks at assailants.
The device has a range of 10 to 25 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) and it wraps around subjects, making them easier to apprehend.
Wrap says its device will allow law enforcers to phase out the use of more harmful devices, including tasers and pistols.
Now, it turns out that Wyoming Police Department and Beaufort Police Department were offered a free BolaWrap in exchange for handing over bodycam footage of police officers using their devices.
Wrap has gone on to use some of that footage in promotional videos for its device, some of which has appeared in media coverage of the device.
The two police departments do say they decided to hand over the bodycam footage before they knew they were going to receive a free BolaWrap.
However, it seems that Wrap requested that footage for its research and development rather than for promotional and social media content, from which it stands to make a profit.
BolaWrap firm faces backlash over use of bodycam footage
In all of the footage used by Wrap for its promotional content, police officers used the BolaWrap to de-escalate a situation with individuals reportedly dealing with a mental health crisis. In every case, the individual's face was blurred.
One video is even preceded by a comment from YouTube saying "the following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences."
The video in question shows the BolaWrap being utilized on an individual who wants to take his own life due to a mental health crisis.
Unsurprisingly, Wrap has been hit by a backlash, with some decrying the use of such sensitive imagery for promotional content. The fact that police officers received free products in return for the footage also leaves a bad taste.
On its YouTube channel, BolaWrap explains that "the BolaWrap was specifically designed for mentally ill, drug-induced, or non-compliant subjects, as a way to restrain them without using pain, before the encounter escalates to the point where higher uses of force are necessary."
While the BolaWrap undeniably offers police officers a safer alternative to tasers and other means of de-escalation, the use of bodycam footage in its promotional content simply encourages comparisons with dystopian science fiction.