If you run into a police officer in Anderson, California, don't be surprised if he's sporting some nunchucks instead of a baton. The Northern California police department is outfitting its 20 officers with the weapon popularized by Bruce Lee because it wanted another nonlethal way to bring a suspect under control while minimizing officer and suspect injuries. The Los Angeles Times has illustrations showing how nunchucks can be used in place of a baton to restrain a suspect by winding around an ankle or wrist. "It gives us the ability to control a suspect instead of striking them," says Sgt. Casey Day, who's already been trained on the weapon and plans to use it instead of a baton. He notes that nunchucks also allow for distance between an officer and a suspect, but that they can be used as an "impact weapon" as well if need be.
"These were kind of designed with a different goal in mind to be more of a control weapon, but like I said, it's not like we can't use these as an impact weapon," Day tells KRCR. "They work really good as an impact weapon, but we try to [emphasize] a control tool over impact." The Anderson PD nunchucks were developed by a retired Colorado police sergeant and are made of hard plastic. A nylon cord connects the two pieces and is used to restrain a suspect via the wrist or ankle—and while Day is confident Anderson officers will use the martial arts weapons properly, the Times notes that some departments have used them improperly in the past, sometimes leading to broken wrists. Officers won't be required to carry nunchucks, but anyone wishing to do so will have to undergo 16 hours of training. Nunchucks are illegal for regular citizens to own in California. (Read more police department stories.)