The ubiquitous paparazzi, who can often be seen swarming around Hollywood hot spots looking for the next big photo, have become less of a problem for Los Angeles in recent months, Police Chief William Bratton told KNBC-TV. It's not because their shark mentality has diminished, however, but because their biggest targets have stopped chumming the water.
"If you notice, since Britney [Spears] started wearing clothes and behaving; Paris [Hilton] is out of town not bothering anybody anymore — thank God — and evidently, Lindsay Lohan has gone gay, we don't seem to have much of an issue," Bratton, wearing a gray sweat suit and gym towel, told the network. "If the ones that attract the paparazzi behave in the first place, like we expect of anybody, that solves about 90 percent of the problem. The rest we can deal with."
Later in the day, Bratton clarified his comments regarding Lohan's sexuality, saying in response to a question at a press conference: "I forget the exact terminology, but [the comment was made] in terms of her activities now seem to be that she's calmed down, and she's in a relationship that's quieted her down. And as such, [she] seems to be attracting less attention and there's less activity that the paparazzi, all of you, are focusing on."
Bratton felt compelled to comment, he said, in response to a meeting planned for Thursday (July 31) at City Hall, which was called by Councilman Dennis Zine to discuss possible new restrictions on freelance photographers, or paparazzi. Zine, who told reporters that the impetus for his motion came when the city was forced to spend $25,000 to escort Spears from her home to a West L.A. hospital this past January, wants the city to enforce a "personal safety zone" around celebrities.
Bratton insisted to the network that the idea itself is ridiculous, ambiguous and nearly impossible to enforce, calling Zine's motion "grandstanding and foolishness." Although representatives from several cities in and around Los Angeles, including Beverly Hills and Malibu, were expected to take part, Bratton said that no representatives from the police department would be in attendance.
"We have sufficient laws on the books" to deal with the problem, he said.
The issue of how to curb aggressive paparazzi has been a hot topic recently in Los Angeles and surrounding cities. In Malibu, city representatives have asked Ken Starr — the dean of the Pepperdine Law School who is best known for his investigation of President Bill Clinton — to help draft an ordinance that could possibly include a paparazzi tax, according to CBS 2-TV.