Martial law: Nunchucks chosen as nonlethal alternative for California police dept

A Northern California police department has offered its 20 officers the option of carrying nunchakus on the beat, giving them another tool by which to subdue a suspect while limiting injury.

Popularized by the likes of martial arts icon Bruce Lee and Michelangelo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, nunchakus, or nunchucks, will give properly-trained officers in the town of Anderson another outlet to carry out their law enforcement duties without resorting to more violent measures, Sgt. Casey Day said.

“It gives us the ability to control a suspect instead of striking them,” said Day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The goal is to use the weapon to restrain a suspect, especially if the suspect punches or kicks at an officer, according to Orcutt Police Defensive Systems Inc., manufacturer of the nunchakus. Batons ‒ impact weapons carried by cops throughout the US ‒ do not offer the same restraining abilities as nunchucks, which are usually made of two wooden bars connected by a short metal chain.

"The Anderson Police Department is implementing the police nunchaku as a tool to more effectively arrest, control, and subdue non-compliant suspects," Anderson Police Chief Michael Johnson told NBC News. "The nunchaku can be deployed to more compassionately gain compliance from a suspect through pain application opposed to striking, as customary with the side-handled or straight baton."

If Anderson police officers choose to carry nunchakus, they must successfully complete a 16-hour training course.

READ MORE: #RiseUpOctober wraps up in NYC with massive rally against police brutality

“I see the value and the safety they bring to me,” said Day, who has traded his baton for nunchakus.

Nunchucks have been used by American police departments in the past, but the weapon fell out of favor after its improper deployment resulted in injuries, such as broken wrists, the LA Times reported. For example, in 1991, the Los Angeles Police Department ceased using nunchakus following a federal lawsuit brought about by anti-abortion protesters.