Recent Filming Raises Questions About The Hiring Of Local Police For Security


While some Quogue and East Quogue beachgoers were ogling Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton during the filming of 20th Century Fox film “The Other Woman” earlier this month, local law enforcement authorities were busy at work, making sure no one strolled into the camera shot, and dealing with the occasional paparazzi.

That is because both Southampton Town and Quogue Village police, as part of a common yet largely unknown practice, were actually hired by the movie studio to secure the two filming locations: the first near 37B Dune Road in East Quogue, and the other near the private Quogue Beach Club. Both departments sent uniformed, armed officers to patrol the two beaches, on and off, between May 28 and June 15 to provide additional security during 21 different shoots over those dates.

In exchange, agents representing 20th Century Fox have agreed to reimburse both the town and village for the additional security, an accord that will require the studio to shell out still undetermined amounts of money, because neither department has yet tabulated a final figure.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce estimated this week that about 800 man hours were dedicated to helping the film company’s private crew secure the filming area under his department’s jurisdiction. During the two days that Quogue Village Police officers were securing the beach club location, Lieutenant Chris Isola estimated that approximately 80 man hours were expended.

Officers working security details do so outside of their normal 40-hour work weeks—so as not to detract from the number of on-duty officers—meaning each must be paid their overtime rate. Those rates, however, fluctuate and depend on the salary collected by the individual officers who were assigned the special duty.

Both departments said they will send their bills, likely within the next week, once the calculations have been finalized.

Southampton Town’s special events code permits its police department to collect reimbursement for service provided to private events, while Quogue Village has a special requests section on its commercial filming permit application where police assistance can be requested. Such a practice is common within both police departments, especially when large events are being held in their respective jurisdictions, according to authorities.

For example, Lt. Isola said one Dune Road resident hosts a party every summer that draws so many visitors that it warrants special police attention to monitor and control traffic. Other events, such as parades, festivals and races, also receive police security. Whether or not organizers get billed usually depends on if the event in question takes place in conjunction with the municipality and whether it is a matter of public safety or private interest.

“There’s little difference between a movie shoot or someone asking for a event security,” Chief Pearce said this week “There are many, many special events and they all have to go through the same application process. The movie permit gets security because it involves blocking roadways.”

Many beach visitors thought nothing of the extra police presence during the filming, and some said they found the officers helpful in navigating around the set. But not everyone on the beach during the filming had a positive interaction with the cops.

Jackson Lee, a freelance photographer based in New York City, said he was on the beach on June 6, 12 and 15 to get photos of Ms. Diaz, Ms. Upton and the other actors on set. He alleges that he was accosted by one Quogue Village officer who was performing security duties near the private beach club on June 12.

Mr. Lee alleges that an officer threatened to arrest him if he took his camera out while he proceeded along the public right of way on the beach—the area between the water and high-water mark—and that others unfairly prevented beach-goers from crossing near the shooting area.

“She said I’m working for the film company, but I’m also an officer for the village,” Mr. Lee said of the officers, whose name he did not get. “I wasn’t getting too confrontational because she was getting pretty nasty about it.”

There are two female officers in the Quogue department and both worked security for the event, Lt. Isola said. He is investigating the allegations against the officer in question.

Although Quogue Village gave the studio permission to shoot at the club and construct a temporary sand dune on the beach, 20th Century Fox did not submit a permit to the Southampton Town Trustees until June 5, at least a week after the shooting had started, and it was not approved until June 12.

The studio paid all the necessary application fees to the Town Trustees—totaling $8,170—and Trustee Eric Shultz said this week that he was satisfied the studio and site manager did everything they believed necessary to be in compliance, which included bringing their own monitor to ensure that nearby piping plover nests were not disturbed.

But Mr. Lee questioned whether the police were acting in the best interests of the public or the movie studio, because one of the stipulations required by the Town Trustees is that the public’s access to the beach is not affected. The permit states that the public right of way is not to be impeded, though both Mr. Shultz and Lt. Isola said there is some flexibility. For example, that area can be temporarily blocked off if the studio wanted a shot of an actor running into the water.

Both Chief Pearce and Lt. Isola said that their officers remain under their direction, even when they are paid to provide additional security. Lt. Isola said the only difference is how the department, and village, are ultimately paid.

Quogue Police Chief Robert Coughlan said the point of the reimbursement is not to make extra money for department, but rather to make sure the village isn’t spending money unfairly.

“If you have somebody that has a need for a police presence for their event, they have to pay for it,” Chief Coughlan said, adding that the New York Police Department has a similar protocol for non-charitable sports parades.

Chief Pearce also stated that having event organizers reimburse the cost of policing has become a necessity in recent years because of budget restraints. “There was a time and place when this was absolved in the normal cost of business,” he said of special event coverage. “But in today’s current economic state, with the budget the way it is, we just can’t afford that anymore.”

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