Next time, Minneapolis Council members want notice of military copter training

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Minneapolis officials will likely demand more public notice from the military the next time the city plays host to helicopter training exercises like those that took place in the Twin Cities metro area last month -- with no advance warning.

The presence of the Blackhawk helicopters took many people by surprise on the evening of Aug. 18 when they began buzzing around downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and flying over neighborhoods in between.

Many area residents were shaken and officials in both cities were upset about the lack of information.

Minneapolis City Council members said Wednesday they don't want to be surprised again, according to the Star Tribune.

Police department officials told the Council's Public Safety Committee that the Department of Defense did not want to release any information in advance of the exercises, for security reasons.

Once the copters appeared, hundreds of residents called police and city officials to ask what was going on.

"People were really upset that first day," said Cam Gordon, who represents the city's 2nd Ward, according to MPR News. "And I looked like a big idiot because I couldn't say what was going on."

The next day, Minneapolis police and military officials apologized for the lack of information. The training exercises continued for several more nights.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges had approved the training exercises, Assistant Chief Matt Clark told the committee, according to the Star Tribune. But he said they did not expect the training to be as disruptive as it was.

"In the future, should the [Department of Defense] request consent to train in Minneapolis, we will set the expectation that they provide clear notice to our residents," Mayor Hodges said, according to the paper.

The committee passed a measure that would require city officials to bring future military training plans to the Council before they are approved. It would also require Council approval for the city to spend any money to support such military exercises, MPR News reports. The full City Council will consider the resolution at an upcoming meeting.

Deputy City Attorney Peter Ginder told the committee the city can withhold support for such exercises, but wouldn't be able to stop the military from conducting them, MPR notes.

The special ops exercises take place 10 to 12 times a year in cities all over the country. The last time they were in the Twin Cities was in 2012.

Here's some video of the helicopter training in downtown Minneapolis on Aug. 18.

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