The Anderson Police Department in Northern California plans to use nunchakus or nunchuks as non-lethal weapons in detaining suspects, the LA Times reported.
The traditional Japanese weapon, popularized by martial arts movie legend Bruce Lee, will now be used by 20 Anderson police officers to control uncooperative and unruly suspects.
While Lee usually used nunchakus to beat up his enemies, Sgt. Casey Day said the police officers will be using them as a means of controlling a suspect rather than to attack him or her.
"These were designed with a different goal in mind; to be used more as a control weapon," Day told ABC 7. "But it's not like we can't use these as an impact weapon ... They work very good as an impact weapon."
While traditional nunchakus consist of two wooden sticks connected with a metal chain, the Anderson Police Department's nunchakus are made of hard plastic tethered together with a nylon cord.
They can restrain suspects by locking their hands, elbows, or ankles, Day said. They can also be used to block a suspect's punch or hit.
Day is certified to train officers in using nunchakus and plans to replace his baton with a pair. While officers are not required to use nunchakus, they will have to undergo a 16-hour training program to do so, Day told the LA Times.
In 1991, the Los Angeles Police Department agreed to stop using nunchakus as a "pain-compliance" method while arresting anti-abortion protesters who filed a lawsuit against the department, according to a 1991 LA Times report.
"The department is concerned about the public perception of their using a tool some people feel is a tool of excessive force," said an attorney representing the LAPD in the case.
The LAPD first used nunchakus during an anti-abortion demonstration outside an abortion clinic in 1989.
The use of nunchakus by civilians is prohibited in California.
"I see the value and the safety they bring to me,” Day told the LA Times, adding that he was confident he would use them properly if the opportunity arose.
"I don't go around looking for trouble," he said.