Removal of film set security from LAPD control urged

The Los Angeles City Council is being asked to vote as early as Tuesday on a change that would remove Police Chief William J. Bratton’s jurisdiction over security and traffic control on film sets.

Councilman Greig Smith introduced a motion Friday in response to a decision by top Los Angeles Police Department officials that would bar retired officers from wearing the dark blue uniform of the LAPD when they provide security and traffic control on film sets.

Earlier this year, LAPD officials said they were replacing the retired officers’ uniforms with white shirts, black pants and yellow reflective vests. Instead of a badge, they would wear a patch that says “Film Detail.” The officials said they were concerned about liability issues, noting that the retired officers look like active officers -- because of the uniforms -- but their training may be decades out of date. The uniform change is to go into effect Sept. 21, according to city officials.

Smith wants the retired cops to go to work for the General Services Division, which has a similar blue uniform, and wear a patch that would identify them as part of the “City of Los Angeles Film Unit.”


The LAPD’s move prompted an outcry from retired officers and film crew members, who questioned whether the public would obey officers who looked more like security guards. They argued that the change could factor into decisions to take film production to other cities, which has been a concern for members of the council.

LAPD First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said Friday that he was aware of Smith’s motion.

“We believe that the department is operating on solid legal ground and we’re doing the right thing for public safety,” McDonnell said. “We’ve laid out our position clearly to the City Council and we realize that there are a few council members that have a different point of view.”

If approved, Smith’s expedited motion could take effect before Sept. 21.


“The movie industry begins some major shoots in early September, and right in the middle of that their whole system will change and they’re very unhappy about that,” Smith said.

“The movie industry has reviewed the motion; they’re satisfied, they don’t want this to happen either,” he said. “And so the message to the chief is: Please postpone, and if you won’t, then we must go forward and fix it this way.”

Melissa Patack, a vice president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, said, “What we’re in favor of is any compromise that would assure uninterrupted production.”

Smith said he believes he has enough votes on the council for approval of the change.


Times staff writer Joel Rubin contributed to this report.