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Biz balks at police action

Retirees prohibited from wearing LAPD uniforms

HOLLYWOOD — Los Angeles film and location professionals have concerns about proposed changes in the use of retired police officers for location filming, including a prohibition on retirees from wearing their LAPD uniforms.

At an informational public hearing held earlier this month in City Council chambers, the Public Works Committee of the Los Angeles City Council, chaired by Councilman Bill Rosendahl, along with First Assistant Police Chief Jim McDonnell, discussed the proposal for an LAPD Contract Services Division and its potential effect on the present system. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton had established similar divisions during his tenures in New York and Boston.

At issue:

  • Retired officers would not be allowed to wear their uniform or badge, and would have to change the color of their motorcycle to all white or all black.

  • Production companies would have the choice of hiring retired officers wearing the new uniform at a rate consistent with what companies are currently paying; or of hiring off-duty LAPD officers wearing the LAPD uniform, and paying time and a half plus 14% overhead.

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Industry professionals expressed concern regarding availability of off-duty police, citing a need for flexible hours as well as the expertise of retired officers who have dealt with location filming.

Industry professionals also fear a lack of respect from the public for retired officers wearing all black or brown uniforms, and consider this (in addition to the possible increase in costs) detrimental to the film industry.

However, LAPD officials maintain no other police organization allows continued use of an official uniform once participants are no longer active — they are merely striving to protect the uniform and the badge. They also are concerned retired officers are not “up to speed with training and firearms.”

Ed Duffy of Teamsters Local 399 countered that studios had previously taken responsibility for liability in using retired officers, stressing the disruption to production schedules if off-duty officers working split shifts were chosen, which broached the question of how off-duty officers would be selected.

“The LAPD could supervise the use of retired officers more closely,” Duffy added, “but the change in uniform, etc., would not be beneficial to the industry.”

According to the LAPD, additional fees for off-duty officers were deemed cheaper or a wash considering that retired officers receive time and a half after eight hours and double time after 12. Proposed rates for off-duty police would also fund the Contract Services Dept.

“We’re not trying to take food out of mouths,” McDonnell said. “Our goal is to be as fair as we can to the industry and the city.”

During the meeting, testimonials from retired officers, location managers and producers, in addition to a petition with some 4,500 signatures supporting the retired officers were presented to the Public Works Committee.

“Our retired officers have 20 years of experience on the force, and 20 years of experience on movie detail,” said location manager Brianna Burke. “That’s 40 years of experience dealing with the public. How are you going to replace that?”

The meeting ended with directives from the Public Works Committee that the proposed plan needs to be reworked. However, many film industry professionals expressed speculative relief over what’s considered at least a temporary victory.

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