Local

Bratton: Paparazzi ordinance unenforceable

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Lawmakers are pushing for an ordinance to protect celebrities and the public for overly aggressive paparazzi, but the LAPD call it unenforceable.

The LAPD report is a major blow to the efforts of local lawmakers who are trying to not only trying to crackdown on the paparazzi, but trying to save taxpayer money in the process.

The LAPD has made it well known that if paparazzi break the law, they will be busted. There have been several paparazzi arrests this year for things like aggressive driving, but when it comes to a specific paparazzi law, LAPD says bad idea.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch the Rob Hayes' report from the scene.

They're aggressive, voracious, and seemingly everywhere a celebrity is. Paparazzi have garnered the disdain of the stars, the police, and now, the politicians.

"We need to do something to correct the problem," said L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine.

Zine is behind a proposed ordinance that would create a personal safety zone around celebrities.

When photographers swarmed an ambulance trying to take Britney Spears to a hospital, it cost the cash-strapped LAPD an reported $25,000 to ensure the ambulance got to the hospital.

However, when the LAPD presented its take on the proposal to the police commission Tuesday morning, it criticized the idea saying that the law would be unenforceable because it is too ambiguous and may violate constitutional rights.

The bill also raises the question of who would be considered a celebrity, and if they should get extra protection not afforded to the general public.

"I believe that there are ample ordinances, laws, that exist within our city, within our state, that allow law enforcement to properly address that behavior that breaks those laws and allow us to control what's happening out there. I don't believe we need an additional ordinance," said LAPD Cmdr. Kirk Albanese.

Zine, a former LAPD motor officer, said existing laws do not go far enough, and something needs to be done before someone is hurt or killed by the paparazzi, adding that his proposal is still in the early stages and any legal issues would be ironed out before the Council votes on it.

"For the police department to issue a report saying we have laws that say you can't speed, you can't drive reckless, you can't jaywalk, you can't park in a red zone, we know those laws already exist. That is not deterring the paparazzi from causing havoc in the community," Zine said.

Albanese said the New York City has a similar paparazzi law, and officers there tell him that they never use it.

The civilian Police Commission voted to approve the recommendation, and it will go on to the City Council for approval, and in the meantime, the hoards with their cameras and camcorders will continue to do what they do -- push the limits and press their luck.

 

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