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Black helicopters over Twin Cities: It's only a drill

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Minneapolis police say the presence of large military helicopters in the skies over the Twin Cities Monday night were part of a training exercise with the Homeland Security Department.

The U.S. Special Operations Command will be conducting exercises until the beginning of September along with police from Minneapolis and St. Paul. This week they’re using helicopters, including Black Hawks, WCCO reports.

The exact locations of the training exercises are not being released, because officials don't want spectators in those areas. But the helicopter exercises will apparently continue for the next three nights, between 8 p.m. and midnight, according to the Star Tribune.

For security reasons, no prior public notice was given, a spokesman with the Florida-based U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman said, MPR reported.

"These are Department of Defense exercises that should not be shared with the general public and security is of the utmost concern," spokesman Ken McGraw said in a statement.

St. Paul council member Dave Thune was upset about the lack of notice given to the public, and he said it was "incredibly unsafe" for low-flying helicopters to be skimming downtown at night, the Pioneer Press reports.

One city official told the Pioneer Press that there was an understanding that local law enforcement would get military equipment in exchange for use of the cities for exercises.

The agencies did similar training in 2012, the newspaper reports.

There was a lot of chatter on Twitter Monday evening when people first saw – and heard – the helicopters.

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Black helicopters flying low over St. Paul

Conspiracy theorists: rest easy. Those black helicopters can be explained. U.S. Special Operations Command has been in St. Paul for "routine urban-environment training," portions of which include St. Paul police, a spokesman says. Black Hawks and smaller Hughes 500s might be visible to some residents between 7 p.m. and midnight until Sept. 1. Exact times and locations are not being disclosed.