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Small crowds outside Jackson memorial satisfy LAPD

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The Los Angeles Police Department got its wish for Tuesday’s Michael Jackson memorial: much smaller crowds than anyone had anticipated. KPCC’s Brian Watt says that made for a pretty calm day in downtown L.A.

Brian Watt: As Michael Jackson fans filed out of the Staples Center, another fan club was forming across the street around Assistant LA Police Chief Earl Paysinger.

Female fan: You guys are amazing. It was the most smooth event I’ve ever been to and I live in LA...

Earl Paysinger: I’m blushing. Stop it. . . We consistently preached the message: if you don’t have a ticket, don’t come to the venue, because you won’t get in. And lo, and behold, people actually listened.

Watt: Well, not EVERYBODY listened.

Crowd sings: ...Rock you in the day...

Watt: On the north side of Staples Center, the closest that fans without tickets could get to the action was the intersection of Figueroa and Olympic – a long LA-Live block away. By 7:30 in the morning, about 500 people packed the two north corners, buying and selling merchandise, participating in sing-a-longs and moonwalking exhibitions. But the crowd never grew much larger than that. By 90 minutes after the tribute, it had dispersed - to the satisfaction of Police Captain Rick Wall.

Captain Rick Wall: There’s nobody left. And the officers have been released, most of whom are now on overtime. So we’re saving the taxpayers dollars, and the people that saved the money were the people who went along with the program and said OK, we’re not gonna show up today, we’re gonna respect the wishes, we’re gonna watch it on TV and not cost the taxpayers more money.

Watt: The police department began the day with more than 3000 officers deployed around the Staples Center. By about 1:30 in the afternoon, more than half of them were off duty.