The Anderson Police Department, a Northern California town of about 10,000, plans to equip its 20 officers with nunchakus, also known as nunchucks.

Basically, they're what martial arts legend Bruce Lee used -- besides his fists of fury and feet -- to take down bad guys in his movies.

The police department was looking for a versatile tool that would limit injuries to officers and the people they detained, but that would still be an effective means of subduing an unruly suspect. Anderson's leaders decided nunchakus were the way to go, said Sgt. Casey Day.

"It gives us the ability to control a suspect instead of striking them," he said.

If you've watched enough Lee movies you'll notice that he didn't use nunchakus to pacify his enemies; he beat them up. But Anderson police say they can detain someone with them in a relatively peaceful way.

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The Anderson Police Department's nunchakus are made of a hard plastic connected by a nylon cord designed to wrap around wrists and ankles.

Day was recently certified to train the department's officers on the proper use of the nunchakus. Officers won't be required to use nunchakus, he said. Those who want them must pass a 16-hour training course.

The pincher-style nunchakus became popular among police in the 1980s, said Greg Meyer, a use-of-force expert and former Los Angeles Police Department training captain. Anaheim, San Diego and the Los Angeles police departments are among the agencies that have used them- at least for a while.

Some law enforcement agencies stopped using nunchakus when officers improperly used them -- in some cases resulting in broken wrists, he said.