Car chase suspect arrested, restrained in body wrap

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- Chula Vista police Friday afternoon restrained a suspect in a rather unconventional way following a chase.

The restraint they used, known as "the wrap," is fairly new to police departments including to Chula Vista police officers, who have used it for over a year and say it has already proven to be effective.

Officers say it all started with an attempt to stop an erratic driver on Palomar Street.

"She fled, committed multiple additional violations. At that time she eventually stopped in front of a business and ran into the business," Chula Vista Police Lt. Gino Grippo said.

Police say the woman was arrested with no trouble, but things took a turn in the squad car.

“While being transported to the police station, she removed her handcuffs from behind her and got them in front of her and started banging on the interior of the car, potentially harming herself. So for her protection, we put her in what we call “the wrap" to safely transport her,” Grippo said.

Law enforcement expert and former police officer Kevin LaChapelle said the wrap is used to de-escalate situations. He says erratic-behaving arrestees are placed in a chest harness and leg restraints to keep them sitting upright so they can easily breathe. A breathable bag is placed over their heads to keep them from doing things like spitting.

“It’s a much more modernized restraint that is challenging to put on when someone’s combative, but once it’s in place it definitely is the safest opportunity for that person not to be injured, or the officers,” LaChapelle said.

A number of departments in California have started using "the wraps" in place of using maximum restraint, or the hog-tie system, which has been linked to deaths around the country.

“It is a much better option than the traditional hog-tying device because that really could cause injury to the suspects, and there have been cases where people had respiratory distress and other things because they’re laying on their stomach and they can’t use their arms and then they also can’t use their legs in the position it puts them in,” LaChapelle said.

A safer -- but unpleasant situation -- that this officer says could have been avoided in this case.

"If she had just pulled over she would have received at most a citation and been on her way but now she's going to jail," Gripp said.

Several other police departments have started using the wrap in recent years, including San Diego Police Department.