Cleveland Checking Movie Making Security

CLEVELAND (AP) - The mayor has ordered an investigation into whether police steered security work for film productions to a company that employs off-duty officers.

Mayor Jane Campbell ordered detectives to investigate after movie producers and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission complained about pressure to use Tenable Protective Services.

"The damage already has been done in terms of the perception film companies have about city police operations," film commission President Chris Carmody wrote to Campbell in April.

The situation grew so difficult as Meg Ryan prepared to film "Against the Ropes" last month that Carmody asked Campbell to intervene. As a result, the boxing movie did not use Tenable.

Carmody now wants Cleveland to strip private companies of their control of off-duty police work.

Tenable chief Pete Miragliotta said his company has done nothing wrong to get movie business.

"I welcome any, any investigation," said Miragliotta, whose company provides off-duty officers for such events as the annual rib cook-off, Cleveland Orchestra concerts downtown and several companies. "Let the chips fall where they may. I know they won't land here."

Tenable and other security companies soon could lose police as employees. Campbell's goal is to operate the same way as most other cities and manage when and where officers work off-duty, spokesman Rodney Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Campbell learned of Cleveland's method of providing off-duty officers as a result of the Meg Ryan movie.

Tenable officials showed up unannounced for a security meeting between Paramount Pictures and the mayor's office. Paramount already had decided not to hire Tenable, however, and refused to let Tenable into the meeting, Jenkins said.

Complaints by movie producers went beyond dealings with police.

They described Cleveland's process for closing streets and getting other services needed for movies as cumbersome.

Based on the Film Commission's recommendations, Campbell wants to set up a one-stop permit center to replace a process that can take days to navigate. She has assigned City Hall workers to come up with a plan.

Chief Ed Lohn has proposed that police provide traffic control outside the perimeter of filming sites, but producers would have to hire private companies for security on the sites.

Carmody said Cleveland should pay the cost of off-duty officers in exchange for the millions of dollars the movie productions pour into the local economy.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)