From kung fu to California cops: Nunchucks make comeback

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As use of force debate rages, Northern California town equips officers with nunchucks.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sgt. An ancient martial arts weapon will arrive on the streets of a small California town, in the hands of police officers adopting the way of the paddy wagon – to protect and serve with nunchakus in hand.

Cops in a northern California town are to be equipped with nunchucks — the weapon mastered by Bruce Lee — in order to “more compassionately gain compliance” from suspects.But the new nunchucks are made of a hard plastic connected by a nylon cord, and are designed to wrap around wrists and ankles to easily detain unruly suspects. The police department in Anderson, north of Sacramento, announced this week that it plans to equip and train its force of 20 officers with the weapon, also called nunchuks, as a new means to detain uncooperative suspects while “limiting injuries”. “They work really good as an impact weapon, but we try to emphasis [sic] a control tool over impact,” Sergeant Casey Day told local KRCR news. — A rural Northern California police department wanted a versatile tool to take down suspects while limiting injuries to officers and the people they detained.

Day is now certified to train the department’s officers on the proper use of the nunchuks, who must pass a 16-hour training program before they are certified to use them. He added that the specialized nunchaku, which has nylon rather than metal links, lets police pacify suspects by wrapping them up, rather than simply acting as a tool to land and block blows, like a baton. “The nunchaku can be deployed to more compassionately gain compliance from a suspect through pain application [as] opposed to striking,” Chief Michael Johnson told NBC News. But it only took a few days of training with nunchucks to win over Day, and the weapon — two solid sticks of plastic attached by a foot-long nylon cord — was recently added to the Anderson Police Department’s arsenal. Anderson Police officers won’t be required to use the weapon, often made of two sticks or bars tethered together and popularized by martial arts film star Bruce Lee and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. Its force has 20 police officers, according to the Los Angeles Times. “In an era where the general public is extremely sensitive to police techniques and use of force issues, [nunchucks offer] another force option that may offset some of the more aggressive perceptions the public has about police intervention,” Johnson added.

The department of 20 sworn officers about 200 miles north of San Francisco joined several other U.S. law enforcement agencies that use nunchucks as “less than lethal” weapons 20 years after their popularity peaked. Although the adoption of the weapon – hundreds of years old and most associated with Bruce Lee, kung fu and a cartoon mutant turtle named after a Renaissance sculptor – may seem novel to northern Californians, American police around the country have used nunchakus at least since the 1970s. “People think I’m training cops to be Bruce Lees running around, but that’s not what I’m doing,” Kevin Orcutt, a retired Colorado police officer and the inventor of the Orcutt Police Nunchaku, told the Guardian. Day says the weapons have the impact of traditional night sticks but also allow trained officers to quickly bind wrists or ankles to control a suspect without violence.

On the website of the nunchakus’ manufacturer, Orcutt Police Defensive Systems Inc., the restraint technique shows an officer using the nunchakus to grip the ankle of a man who is kicking his foot toward the officer’s face. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a similar lawsuit by San Diego abortion protesters, but departments were beginning to embrace high-technology, nonlethal gadgets by then — or returned to the trusty police baton — to control crowds and suspects without using guns. Anderson police will be far from the first department to use nunchucks, Greg Meyer, a use-of-force expert and onetime Los Angeles Police Department training captain, told the Times.

Orcutt said he hopes to spark renewed interest in the weapon now that he is retired from a 35-year law enforcement career and is devoted full time to his Denver-based company. In 1991 the weapons were used at an anti-abortion rally in Los Angeles, prompting federal lawsuits, and the LAPD agreed to stop using them before the cases were eventually settled. The weapons are banned in New York, and current supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor, when she was a federal judge, upheld the law that prohibits them.

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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