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L.A. City Council wants to weigh in on movie-set policing controversy [updated]

July 9, 2009 |  2:15 pm


Some members of the L.A. City Council are balking at the LAPD's plans to ban retired officers from wearing police uniforms and badges when they work on movie sets.

Police Chief William J. Bratton recently announced that his department would soon require that ex-officers shed their blues to more clearly distinguished themselves from active-duty officers. Instead of wearing the dark blue uniform made famous in episodes of "Dragnet" and "Adam-12," the former officers would be required to wear black pants, a white shirt and a fluorescent yellow reflective vest.

The department, citing liability concerns and control over its image, says it doesn't want the public to confuse active-duty LAPD officers with retired ones.

But location managers and retired police officers have been aggressively lobbying City Council members, saying that forcing them to wear something different would undermine their authority and their ability to provide security on sets -- which also would give filmmakers even less reason to shoot locally.

Echoing those concerns, council members Tom LaBonge and Greg Smith introduced a motion on Wednesday demanding that the LAPD, the city attorney and the city administrative officer bring their recommendations to the City Council before taking action.

"Recent discussion relative to prohibiting the wearing of police uniforms by retired police officers at motion picture and television production locations have raised a significant amount of concern over the continued effectiveness of the City's efforts to assist and nurture the motion picture, television production and entertainment industry," the motion read.

No word from the LAPD on the motion, which hasn't yet been voted on by the full council.

Update: LAPD Assisant Chief Jim McDonnell said the department would be "happy" to discuss its plans with the City Council. "I'm confident that once the Council hears our rationale for moving in this direction, they will concur with us that this is in the best interests of city," he said. "The industry will still be able to hire the people they have long-term relationships with under the same conditions. The only difference is the uniform."

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Hal DeJong, a retired police officer, directs traffic on a film set near downtown L.A. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times