LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles Police Department teamed with military special operation forces Wednesday evening to conduct multi-agency tactical exercises in the skies above downtown LA.
Many questioned what was going on Wednesday night as a Black Hawk helicopter and four OH-6 choppers – or “Little Birds” – flew over the city, at one point hovering just above the US Bank building downtown and later flying low over the Staples Center as the Lakers played inside.
Someone could be seen sitting inside an open chopper with his legs hanging off the side.
Sky9 spotted the Black Hawk in the dark, making what appeared to be a drop off at a park before quickly ascending back into the air.
Throughout the exercise, the five rotorcrafts were staged at Dodgers Stadium.
The LAPD said the purpose of the training was in part to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments.
Chief Warrant Officer David Duran was a U.S. Army aviator for 12 years. He now flies Blackhawk helicopters for the National Guard in California. Duran says what KCAL9 saw Wednesday night could be a dry run for a future mission.
“They do a lot of mockup training,” said Duran. “But it’s always best to get the closest terrain layout to what the objective is.”
Duran said the military chooses training environments based on what they might be facing in the near future.
“If it’s a mountainous terrain, they go to the mountains; if it’s a desert terrain, they use the desert; if they’re in a coastal terrain, they use the coast,” said Duran. “If it’s an urban terrain, you know, whatever’s needed.”
In a release Monday, the LAPD said training exercises would take place at various sites around the greater Los Angeles area through Thursday. The exercises were coordinated with local authorities and owners of the training sites, according to the release.
Many wondered Thursday night about the safety of such drastic maneuvers being conducted over an urban area.
The LAPD said safety precautions were taken to prevent risk to the general public, as well as the military personnel involved.
Similar exercises have been seen in Miami and Boston.