An ongoing struggle between the film industry and the L.A. Police Department broke out on Saturday when the L.A. Times reported that the Los Angeles City Council will be voting—possibly 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.

Photo by Susan Jekarl

The back story to this L.A. City Council initiative is that, for many years, retired police officers dressed in their uniforms have acted as security on film locations in Los Angeles.Police Chief Bratton was opposed to this, saying that there is a public safety and liability issue since these retired policemen look like on-duty police but in fact are retired and have not had up-to-date training.

A few months ago, LAPD officials announced that retired officers would no longer be permitted to wear their police uniforms, and instead would be outfitted with white shirts, black pants and yellow reflective vests. Instead of a badge, they would wear a patch that says “Film Detail.” The uniform change is to go into effect Sept. 21.

This decision sparked upset in the film production community fighting runaway production. One concern was that the public might not obey officers who looked like security guards. The general consensus was that the retired LAPD officers acting as security and traffic control on location were one of the benefits of keeping production in Los Angeles and that, by taking this away, productions would have even more reason to flee the city.

Councilman Greig Smith introduced a motion Friday that the retired cops would  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. LAPD First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said Friday that he was aware of Smith’s motion but that the department “believes that the department is operating on solid legal ground and we’re doing the right thing for public safety.”

If approved, Smith’s expedited motion could take effect before Sept. 21. Smith noted that the film industry had scheduled some major shoots for early September and the motion was expedited so that the system wouldn’t change in mid-production. Smith says he believes he has enough votes on the Council to approve his motion.