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Despite concerns about chaos, Michael Jackson memorial runs smoothly

July 7, 2009 |  2:10 pm

Despite worries about chaos and gridlock, the Michael Jackson public memorial went off without a hitch, with the Los Angeles Police Department saying it didn't make a single arrest.

The department deployed 3,200 officers today in its biggest deployment since the 1984 Olympics but they were hardly needed as fewer than 1,000 fans appeared on the streets outside the Staples Center area.

“We drove home the message that people were better off watching at home, there was nothing to see,” Chief William J. Bratton said. “It was all about good planning and good coordination.”

Bratton said the 3,200 officers were planned for because it is a lot easier to downsize when nothing occurs than call in additional officers when trouble breaks out.

Bratton said that as it became obvious that fans had stayed home, deployment was dropped to 1,000 officers. The crowds were small beyond Staples Center, where predictions of streets filled with fans had come in the days running up to the memorial.

“We had 1,000 to 600 people on the Staples Center perimeter,” Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said. “We are very happy.”

Diaz said with no arrests and no significant incidents it was nothing short of a miracle for such a major event. The Los Angeles police removed a man with a guitar from the inner perimeter who was drunk, Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. Smith said the man resisted leaving the closed-off area.

Two police officers removed the man from the area. “When they sought to escort him he went limp and had to be dragged out of the area. We did not arrest him and he is now across the street behaving,” Smith said.

 A second man was also detained for trying to sell tickets but later let free by the police. The LAPD banned fans without tickets from a larger buffer zone around Staples that stretched for several blocks and police officials say that helped them in making the venue less attractive as a gathering place. The venue's giant screens were not actively playing the events inside.

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

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