Warnings by police and city officials for people without tickets to remain clear of Staples Center during today's Michael Jackson memorial ceremony appeared to have worked, with only small crowds gathering around a wide perimeter designed to keep anxious fans out of the area, police Chief William Bratton said.
"It was, I think, a very significant success for certainly public safety but also for the city of L.A.," Bratton told KCAL9 after the ceremony ended. "We had a lot of coordination, cooperation and support between the police agencies, fire department. And no arrests, no incidents. A very happy crowd, memories to take with them for the rest of their lives."
Bratton said 3,200 officers were assigned to the Jackson ceremony, but with the anticipated crush of fans without tickets failing to materialize, many of them were released as the event wore on.
"And we were able to downsize fairly quickly," he said. "We let almost a thousand officers go during the event. Right after the crowd exited we let another 800 go. We'll keep an eye on it this afternoon. We have five venues that we're looking at. We have Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, we have the home in Encino, we have the house where he died, we have over at the cemetery and you have here. And as you see a couple thousand people here who are in no hurry to leave."
He said the recent increase in the number of LAPD officers helped cut down on the amount of overtime that the city would need to pay.
"We used a lot of on-duty people," he told Channel 9. "One of the benefits of growing the department by a thousand officers over the last couple years is I have a lot more people working regularly than I did in the past, and that helps on the overtime also because I have a lot more people I can draw down on. So even though I had 3,200 people here at the peak, I still had sufficient coverage throughout the rest of the city to handle the workload."