Police don’t expect problems at Jackson memorial

Police gather Tuesday morning in Los Angeles for Michael Jackson's public memorial.
Police in Los Angeles, California, are asking Michael Jackson fans without tickets to the pop icon’s memorial service Tuesday to stay home from the event.

The city also wants help paying for their efforts to keep the public remembrance safe, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles mayor. Crowds are expected to be “very large,” and a police presence will be felt at the “King of Pop’s” public remembrance, said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. “This is probably the largest event we’ve planned for since the 1984 Olympics — in terms of a planned event,” he told CNN on Tuesday morning. “We really have no idea how many people are going to show up here.” Bratton said he did not expect security problems at the service, which will be held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center starting at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). Learn more about event details » “We’re not anticipating disorderly crowds,” he said. “We’re just anticipating very large crowds.” On Tuesday morning, thousands of people had gathered outside the Staples Center, according to a CNN correspondent.

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Bratton encouraged people who do not have tickets to watch the event from home. “They’re better off actually staying home because then you’ll actually be able to see the event itself,” he said. Watch Bratton talk about the event » The memorial also will be broadcast live on television and on the Internet, including at CNN.com/Live. Cost could be a factor in the security efforts, as California has been hit hard by a budget crisis and the economic recession. Matt Szabo, spokesman for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, told CNN the city needs help paying for the security efforts. He encouraged fans to take part in the event by helping to pay for a police force that could keep the event safe. “Nothing could tarnish this event more than having a public safety disturbance of any kind,” he said. “We’re working to make sure that doesn’t happen. And we’re asking Michael Jackson fans to help contribute.” Bratton said police will “ramp down pretty significantly” because of costs if large crowds do not show up at Jackson’s public memorial. The total cost for security at the event is estimated to be between $2 million and $4 million, he said. Through a lottery, fans were given 17,500 tickets to the remembrance for Jackson, who died of an undetermined cause on June 25. Just 11,000 of those are for seats inside the Staples Center. The other 6,500 are for viewing the memorial telecast across the street at the Nokia Theater. Members of the Jackson family set aside an additional 9,000 Staples Center seats to give out to people they choose, organizers said. On Monday, police and security officers kept a close watch while fans lined up around the block to sign a memorial wall. Helicopters flew overhead and sheriff’s deputies could be seen strolling through with bomb-sniffing dogs. Still, the mood remained festive. Fans who won tickets to the memorial service through a lottery swarmed to Dodger Stadium — some in smart cars, some on scooters and even one in an airport shuttle. They entered giddy with anticipation and exited shaking with excitement, holding two priceless tickets and sporting wristbands that organizers put on them to prevent resales. “It’s sparkly,” said Alex Jugant, a student from Pasadena, California. “Michael would have liked that.”

The ticket distribution process at the stadium Monday was orderly and smooth, said Los Angeles Police Capt. Bill Murphy. One person tried to pass off a photocopied voucher; he was ejected, Murphy added.