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High school film draws scathing review from police

Officers respond to call of 'armed and bloodied people' only to find students filming project

West Linn police were shocked last week when they arrived at a scene that instantly appeared to be a major crime in progress.

They responded to the underground garage at the West Linn Central Village on a call of armed and bloodied people with possible injuries.

'This is not the type of call we get every day,' said Sgt. Neil Hennelly, 'but we have preached for years that bad things and bad people are here all the time.'

Unfortunately, officers were not disappointed. When they entered the parking garage, they saw bloodied people with guns drawn and what Hennelly described as a 'violent crime in progress.'

'This is a case that could have gone terribly wrong,' Hennelly said, 'and had a substantially different outcome, but for a bit of luck.'

In fact, the whole scenario was what Hennelly called a 'recipe for disaster.'

In reality, West Linn High School students were filming a school project that involved a bit of violence. This project involved cast members covered with fake blood and others with toy guns in hand.

The 'guns' had been altered; the florescent end caps were painted to match the rest of the 'gun,' making them look more realistic.

That's important if you're trying to recreate reality.

Unfortunately, no one had thought to call the police and tell them that this scenario would be happening, and no one was standing by to inform passersby that it was a film set - not a real crime in progress.

'We support and encourage students to be creative and improvise for their classes,' Hennelly said. 'We have actually sent our officers to assist in class video and film projects. With a few simple steps, a major disaster can be avoided without jeopardizing the creativity of the project.'

Hennelly said the process isn't difficult and doesn't require a permit.

'All we ask is a quick phone call to the dispatch center (503-635-0238),' he said, 'or better yet talk to School Resource Officer Allister Bunch. He is your resource. Let us know what, when and where the event will be happening.'

Hennelly strongly suggests having one person standby - a person who is not in the production - to be a point of contact or safety person. He or she should wear a traffic safety vest to easily be seen.

'I know this sounds dorky,' Hennelly said, 'but it lets people know that this is an organized event, and not some sort of attack. The goal is to inform the public while maintaining the integrity of your project.'

Hennelly says he will remember this scenario for a long time because of the way it could have ended.

But didn't.

'I shudder to think what could of happened if one of the actors had pointed one of these altered 'guns' towards an officer,' he said. 'Please, be safe.'