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Why You Might See Cops Rappelling From Helicopters In Downtown L.A. Today

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LAPD Helicopter (Photo by Jason Kirk/Getty Images)
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Don't panic: The massive police presence in downtown L.A. this morning is part of a planned counter-terrorism drill.

A team of LAPD officers from the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau will provide a demonstration that will include a “response to a weapons of mass destruction device" for the benefit of folks attending a Homeland Security conference.

According to KNX radio, the drill begins at 10 a.m. on Figueroa between 5th and 4th Street. It will involve “blank” gunfire, low-flying police helicopters, and LAPD officers rappelling from the helicopters, and emergency vehicles with lights and sirens.

LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing told KNX that the deployment of bomb squad tools and heavy equipment on the street will be as close to the real thing as possible. “I think you’re gonna have about 18 minutes of sheer dynamic, robust, counter-terrorism capability, and you’re gonna see it all,” Downing said. “The only thing that could be more real are dead bodies and real bullets.”

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Look out for the following related street closures:

  • Figueroa between 4th and 5th starting at 9:50 a.m.
  • Northbound Figueroa at 7th
  • Eastbound 4th at Beaudry
  • 110 Freeway southbound offramp (rolling closure)
  • Westbound 5th Street at Flower

All of the roads, except for Figueroa, will be re-opened as soon as possible.
The 2013 National Homeland Security Conference is being held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel on Figueroa.