Even before being elected as Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams had been asking for improvements to the equipment that NYPD officers are given to do their jobs. One product in particular is known as BolaWrap. It’s a device that fires a tether or snare made of Kevlar that can wrap up the legs of a suspect, preventing them from either attempting to escape or physically assault victims or officers. On the surface, this seems like a logical thing for Adams to be interested in. After all, he’s a former career police officer himself and knows the demands of the job. And anyone interested in police reform would surely be willing to take a look at new, non-lethal intervention tools that might mitigate instances of deadly force encounters, right? But as the New York Times points out this week, there is more to the story than meets the eye. And the Mayor’s motives are being called into question.
For years, as an elected official and candidate for New York City mayor, Eric Adams promoted an unconventional police tool called BolaWrap.
Designed to fire a Kevlar tether that ensnares people who might fight or try to flee from the authorities, the hand-held device has been tested and rejected by the New York Police Department.
Yet in 2018, Mr. Adams, as Brooklyn borough president, invited reporters to Borough Hall for a BolaWrap demonstration, firing it and being fired at himself before exclaiming, “This is a damned good product, man!”
The problems with the saga of Adams and Bolawrap become evident without too much of an investigation. First of all, as noted above, Adams is a big fan of the technology but the police don’t seem to be. The device was tested multiple times by the New York Police Department and the state police and they rejected it. That sounds like a fairly strong piece of evidence against having the city purchase it.
But the story gets more complicated as you look more deeply. The company that makes BolaWrap is Wrap Technologies. It turns out that Adams’ current Chief of Staff and longtime political donor and supporter, Frank Carone, is a significant investor in Wrap Technologies to the tune of nearly a million dollars. He significantly increased his investments when Adams was publicly pitching the product and earned a profit of nearly half a million dollars on that investment.
Further, Wrap Technologies has made multiple contributions to Adams’ various political campaigns in the past. You’re probably beginning to detect a pattern here. While reporters haven’t been able to draw a direct line between the Mayor’s personal wealth and the fortunes of that company, it certainly doesn’t look good.
I’m going to come clean here and remind everyone that I was very supportive of Eric Adams in his bid to become mayor. After all, he is a former Republican who migrated to being a moderate Democrat with a focus on law and order. He campaigned on a promise to refund the police and get the city’s crime problems under control. And he has been making moves to advance that agenda, for which I applaud him.
But at the same time we’ve covered a disturbing number of stories here involving what appears to be a pattern of nepotism and cronyism. He’s been handing out positions in his administration to supporters, some of whom were forced to resign because they were disqualified for the position. He first tried to appoint his brother to a top role in the NYPD. When that was shot down, he hired him for a position on his own staff. And now we have this situation with BolaWrap.
Perhaps none of those stories would be disqualifying when looked at in a vacuum, but there is clearly a disturbing pattern emerging. If Eric Adams ran for office to clean up New York City and bring back law and order, that’s great. I still support his platform. But if he’s using his position to enrich his friends, family, and political supporters, people are going to be detecting the stench of Tammany Hall coming from the offices of the Mayor yet again.