ANAHEIM : Martial Arts Tool Optional to Officers

When Police Officer Paul Haas went to subdue a fifth-degree black belt holder who allegedly was on a rampage, racing from apartment to apartment kicking in doors and threatening residents, he wasn't too worried.

Haas had a secret weapon.

As he arrived at the scene Monday, he came face to face with the man, who assumed a martial arts stance and dared Haas to arrest him.

Haas whipped out a set of black nunchakus , wrapped them around the suspect's wrist and simply squeezed. He fell in pain.

This week for the first time, eight officers and two sergeants in the Anaheim Police Department are armed with Orcutt Police Nunchakus, a 26-inch long device which was first popularized in the Bruce Lee martial arts films of the 1970s.

Anaheim is the third police department in Orange County to equip officers with the controversial martial arts weapon.

The Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa police departments have both been using nunchakus since 1987. Security guards for the Orange County Transit District also carry them.

Anaheim Police Lt. Ray Welch said nunchakus have a number of advantages over the traditional baton, a longer, more cumbersome weapon.

Nunchakus consist of two 10-inch-long, rods of black plastic attached by a short nylon cord.

The weapon is easily stored in a case on the officer's gun belt.

"It's my belief that this is an extremely effective device," Welch said. "It rides high on the officer's belt and doesn't interfere while the officer runs or climbs walls."

But nunchakus have been criticized as too brutal because they can be swung around with high speed and can wrap around wrists, creating disabling pain.

But Welch defended their uses, saying that the traditional baton is far more dangerous and cannot be used effectively in close quarters.

The Anaheim officers took a 32-hour course before being certified to carry and train others to use nunchakus .

After a 90-day evaluation period, the nunchakus , which cost about $50, will be available as an optional weapon for officers to carry.

The officer will have to purchase their own set of nunchakus and attend a 16-hour certification course.

"It's like anything else," Welch said. "It's a change, and a lot of times people don't like change."

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