Two hundred police officers in Los Angeles are to be trained to use a new device similar to one on Batman’s utility belt.
The gadget, known as the BolaWrap 100, fires a kevlar cord from up to 25ft (seven metres) away that wraps around a person’s arms or legs to ensnare them.
The tool is designed to restrict their movements without using force, such as a Taser or gun.
Barbs attached to the end of the tether grab hold of the person, but civil rights activists have expressed concerns about its potential usage.
Under a trial beginning in January, three devices will be carried by officers on the streets of LA.
Then 200 officers will be given the gadgets once they are trained to use them.
The force expects the BolaWrap to be used mostly on people with mental health problems or those suspected of being under the influence who refuse to comply with officers.
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Bell police chief Carlos Islas cautioned the device was one of many tools that officers could use, but it may not work in every situation.
He was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying: “If you deploy a wrap tool, it buys time for officers to deploy a secondary option.
“It will inevitably restrain someone. It’s a tool that’s been a long time coming.”
Mike Rothans, chief operating officer at Las Vegas-based maker Wrap Technologies, said the barbs create a “very small puncture” when the tether wraps around a person and could cause more pain if a suspect tries to pull the cords off.
“This is a restraint device,” Mr Rothans said. “This is meant to put time and distance between the officer.”
But Adam Smith, a member of activist movement Black Lives Matter, criticised the tool, saying police would probably deploy it mostly in minority communities.
US police departments are under intense scrutiny for their use of force in situations where a person is unarmed or suffers from mental illness.
Dozens of departments in America are either testing the BolaWrap or have purchased it this year.
Fresno police in California began training officers in January, and officers in Hendersonville, North Carolina, started using the devices last week on the streets.