Actors Playing New York City Policemen
Did you know you could be arrested for carrying a police uniform in New York City?
With security tighter in the Big Apple since Sept. 11, 2001, the union that represents TV and film actors has begun advising its New York-area members to stop buying police costumes or carrying them to gigs, even if their performances require them.
The Screen Actors Guild said in a statement posted on its Web site on Friday that “an apparent shift in city policy” may put actors at risk of arrest if they are stopped while carrying anything that looks too much like a real police uniform.
The odds that an actor might be stopped and questioned on his or her way to work went up this month when police began conducting random searches of passengers’ bags in New York’s subway system. The guild said two of its members had been detained by security personnel at an airport and a courthouse in recent months for possessing police costumes.
This seems like overkill to me. I understand that a police uniform is an authentication device—not a very good one, but one nonetheless—and we want to make it harder for the bad guys to get one. But there’s no reason to prohibit screen or stage actors from having police uniforms if it’s part of their job. This seems similar to the laws surrounding lockpicks: you can be arrested for carrying them without a good reason, but locksmiths are allowed to own the tools of their trade.
Here’s another bit from the article:
Under police department rules, real officers must be on hand any time an actor dons a police costume during a TV or film production.
I guess that’s to prevent the actor from actually impersonating a policeman. But how often does that actually happen? Is this a good use of police manpower?
Does anyone know how other cities and countries handle this?