The Academy Awards in the heart of Hollywood make the perfect target for a terrorist. (Or an Occupier.) They're the ultimate symbol of Western culture, celebrating billion-dollar blockbusters and caught up in a media frenzy of nip slips/gown slits.
Of this, the LAPD is well aware. Thus the massive security detail deployed at last night's awards show:
CBS News reports that “hundreds of officers,” aided by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, were crawling the grounds of the Hollywood and Highland Center (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre).
It's all controlled from a huge command post, stashed away on a Hollywood sound stage. “This,” says Los Angeles Police Commander Matt Blake, “is where all the big decisions are made. We have people that are out in the field … and we communicate with them and we get them all of the resources they need to handle any problem they have.”
Commander Andrew Smith at the LAPD's media relations office tells the Weekly that the Academy itself “hires a bunch of off-duty police officers” as security for the inside of the theater. However, Smith says the LAPD “also deploys a large number” of officers to patrol the surrounding area. (We've contacted Commander Blake, who was in charge of the operation, for exact figures.)
The anti-terrorism measures taken by the LAPD at the Oscars were actually quite similar to those used to clear out the Occupy L.A. encampment downtown, back in December.
Last night, according to CBS, the department readied its one-of-a-kind forklift, called the “bat cat,” to move any cars with bombs on their undersides. This machine is the same cherry-picker that cops used to force a couple remaining tree-sitters from their perch outside L.A. City Hall during the raid.
Federal hazmat teams were also present at both events — though this time they reportedly went plainclothes, to avoid detection.
The LAPD's special hazmat robot, though, was reserved for the Oscars. He was reportedly on red-carpet standby, ready to “go into a contaminated area,” identify any dangerous chemical, radiological or biological agent present — then shoot the information back, wirelessly, to the LAPD's sound-studio command post.
Things only got crazier from there:
At checkpoints, mirrors scan the undercarriages of limos, snipers are posted on rooftops. And the LAPD's specialized vapor wake bomb detection K-9s (canines, dogs) were on the move. “Their specialties are smelling out suicide bombers,” says LAPD Sgt. Tom Davoren. “They can pick them up from about 50 feet away.”
These hypersensitive bomb-sniffers are usually reserved for airports and Metro stations. For more, see LA Weekly's “Insane Superbreed of 'Vapor Wake Detection' Bomb Dog Now Patrolling LAX.”
So there you have it — the LAPD's massive security detail for the Academy Awards.
All this, plus about 100 staffers from the Department of Transportation, directing traffic outside the theater and engineering traffic signals to prevent buildup. (We've contacted Street Services for more on the total city costs of the Oscars, and which ones are covered by the Academy.)
Yet in the end, the only terrorists to crash the party were B-list actresses with V.I.P. issues. Boooring.