Following a call from Johnny Griffin, the director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, concerning the need for more officers and deputies on film sites, local law enforcement agencies approached the governing boards of both the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County for help.
The issue, according to both the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department and the Wilmington Police Department, is the hourly pay rate of $30 per hour off-duty deputies and officers receive for special events work like what’s required for film sets in public places. That $30 hourly rate is paid by the companies to the city or county, which keeps $6 for administrative fees (the cost of handling the transaction) and pays the remaining amount of $24 per hour to law enforcement.
“The Sheriff has experienced difficulty recruiting deputies to work at the current rate and has requested to increase the contract rate to $36,” stated a document provided to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners last week. “The county would continue to retain $6 per hour to cover administrative expenses, while $30 per hour would be paid to the deputy.”
This week, both the City Council and Board of Commissioners responded by approving increases in the pay rates of officers contracted to work for film crews and other businesses looking to hire law enforcement for their events.
On Monday afternoon, New Hanover County Commissioners approved the new hourly rate at their board meeting as part of their consent agenda.
“It’s more than just providing security. It’s closing roads, directing traffic, and things like that,” Commissioner Rob Zapple said last Thursday, noting that while crews hire private security, they need extra authority to do other things. “These are very specific and very special services they provide.”
On Tuesday night, the item was also presented to the Wilmington City Council by WPD Chief Ralph Evangelous.
“We’ve been having a hard time, between us and the Sheriff’s office, filling off-duty contracts,” Evangelous told council members, informing them that the county already approved the pay increase for their deputies. “They need law enforcement at movie sites. We need to do something to get these contracts filled.”
Council members unanimously approved the fee change by a 6-0 vote (Mayor Bill Saffo stepped away before the item was presented). According to city documents, it had been several years since the rate for providing contracted outside security services had been adjusted.
The new rates are effective immediately and will apply to officers and deputies currently working on shows filming in the area such as History Channel’s “Six” and TNT’s “Good Behavior.” According to the county, it is expected to cost an additional $5,000 for the remainder of the current fiscal year. For the next fiscal year, it is expected to cause an increase of $83,754 to both revenues and expenditures but will not have a net impact on the county’s budget. It is unclear what financial impact the rate increase will have on the city.