With security tighter since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the union that represents TV and film actors is advising its New York-area members to stop carrying police costumes to TV and movie sets.
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 actors might be stopped and questioned on their 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.
City code has long prohibited anyone other than a police officer from possessing a replica uniform or badge. But guild spokesman Seth Oster said on Monday that actors have traditionally been able to obtain letters from the police commissioner giving them permission to carry such items to work on the sets of movies or shows like NBC’s “Law & Order.”
That practice was abolished after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The guild said that over the past four months it has unsuccessfully sought to have the city clarify whether any new procedure was in place to allow actors to possess police costumes. Oster said it was better for actors to be extra careful until the rules are clarified.
About 200 members of the Screen Actors Guild’s 30,000 New York-based members have jobs that require them to dress as police officers, Oster said.