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Hollywood resists LAPD handling security

September 3, 2008 6:51:19 AM PDT
Hollywood production companies say they will resist any efforts by the LAPD to take over the job of handling security on movie locations.The LAPD said it wants only off-duty, active police officers to handle security so that they can be held more accountable for what happens.

Currently, most of those security officers are retired LAPD members, although they are still in uniform.

Production companies say active police officers will significantly increase costs.

The so-called movie officers working on the sets, like that of the movie "11th Hour" in downtown L.A. on Wednesday, are a vital part of the crew. The officers do everything from directing traffic, controlling crowds and even acting as a community liaison.

"When we get to a set they already know where to lock it down. They could already, pretty much, predict what the problems are going to be for that day," said Jared Kurt, "11th Hour" location manager.

A proposed plan by Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton involves replacing the retired cops, most of whom were former LAPD officers, with active duty officers. That plan has Hollywood screaming, "Cut!"

Bratton says the current system creates a major liability issue the city can't afford.

"I know of no place that uses individuals, even though they are former officers that wear the uniform of active officers, even though they are retired. And wear the badge, and give impression that they are Los Angeles police officers," said Bratton.

The production community says costs, as well as the lack of flexibility and number of available LAPD officers, could have major impact on Hollywood.

Critics question whether the plan is realistic.

"There would be 4,000 to 5,000 active officers potentially rotating through these jobs. There are fair labor standards acts, which limit the number of hours they can work off duty and so forth," said Hal DeJong, president, Motion Picture Officers Association.

Movie and TV production in Los Angeles has dropped dramatically over the years. That is, in part, due to other states and countries offering cheaper costs and rebates.

Major studios and production companies say the retired movie officers are a major incentive the city cannot afford to lose.

"Imagine instead of paying straight time for eight hours, you're paying them time-and-half, or double time ... Plus a contingency above that. It could raise the cost, I would imagine, double or, potentially, triple," said Veronique Vowell, "Cold Case" location manager.

The Los Angeles City Council will have the final say. With millions at stake, Hollywood is hoping the plan ends up on the cutting room floor.

 

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