NPR logo Small California Town Gives Its Police Nunchucks As Non-Lethal Alternative

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Small California Town Gives Its Police Nunchucks As Non-Lethal Alternative

A small town in California is outfitting its police with nunchucks in order to give its officers another non-lethal alternative to subduing a suspect and also with hopes that it will change the perception that police officers are aggressive.

KRCR-TV reports that that Anderson Police Department has trained its officers to use the nunchucks. Sgt. Casey Day told KRCR that nunchucks allow officers to "control a suspect instead of striking them."

"It's not like we can't use these as an impact weapon," Day added. "They work really good as an impact weapon, but we try to emphasis a control tool over impact."

NBC News spoke to police Chief Michael Johnson, who said he also hopes that the new tool could help reshape public opinion about police use-of-force.

"In an era where the general public is extremely sensitive to police techniques and use of force issues, [nunchakus offer] another force option that may offset some of the more aggressive perceptions the public has about police intervention," Johnson said.

The AP reports that other police forces have used nunchucks in the past, but the weapons started falling out of favor after they were targeted by a couple of lawsuits in California. The AP adds:

"Sales slumped significantly once departments began buying Tasers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to Kevin Orcutt, who says he's the only nunchucks maker for U.S. law enforcement agencies.

"'The Taser slowed everything down,' he said. ...

"He said Bruce Lee movies from the 1970s stirred his interest in nunchucks, leading him to train in the martial art of Jukado and earn a black belt. He got a patent for his version of the ancient Japanese weapon in 1984 and persuaded the chief of Colorado's Thornton Police Department, where he served, to formally adopt it."

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