The star-struck gawkers, paparazzi and businessmen walking by a big-budget film set on Broadway in downtown Thursday could be forgiven for thinking that Bill Todd was a real Los Angeles police officer. He did, after all, shut down a lane of traffic to make room for the huge trailers and production rigs — much to the annoyance of drivers. And there was the pistol hanging from his hip and the Los Angeles Police Department badge clipped to the LAPD uniform. But look closely at the 61-year-old bear of a man, leaning against an official-looking motorcycle: The sergeant’s stripes on each arm had been ripped off, leaving a faint outline. The bike had no blue emergency lights. On the top edge of the badge, in tiny letters, read “RETIRED.”
Todd is one of a long line of ex-LAPD officers who, for decades, have been mainstays on film sets in Los Angeles, directing traffic, escorting car chases and, in general, keeping the city’s fantasy world separate from reality, reports the city’s Times. But amid growing concern by residents and LAPD officials that the retired officers enjoy too cozy of a relationship with the Hollywood studios that pay them and are being too lax in enforcing filming permits, a battle over possible changes to the old way of doing things is brewing. Los Angeles police officials, seeking to increase their oversight of film sets, are considering requiring film crews to hire off-duty, active officers instead.