The Los Angeles Police Department defended the decision to have at least 10 officers on motorcycles, two police cruisers and two police helicopters to escort disturbed pop princess Britney Spears to the hospital early Thursday.
Police Capt. Sharyn Buck said she received complaints from people who asked if they would receive a similar escort. Buck defended the motorcade, saying it was provided to get Spears through a paparazzi swarm without endangering her or the public.
"It's not preferential treatment by the LAPD, it's protecting public safety," Buck said.
Spears, 26, was taken to the emergency ward at UCLA Medical Center for a mental evaluation for the second time this month.
A Los Angeles police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter, said the singer was taken to the hospital to "get help."
The Los Angeles Times cited unidentified authorities who said Spears was being placed on a "mental evaluation hold."
Photo Essay: Britney taken to hospital
Insiders, Neighbors Comment on Britney Spears' Hospitalization
Shortly after 1 a.m., the motorcade that pulled away from Spears' residence was nearly the length of a football field. Along with the ambulance, it included police on nearly a dozen motorcycles and in two cruisers. Two police helicopters followed overhead.
Spears' mother, Lynne Spears, was seen leaving UCLA Medical Center's psychiatric hospital at about 5:30 a.m.
When asked by a throng of paparazzi and reporters whether Britney was doing all right, Lynne Spears replied, "Yeah," before leaving in a Range Rover.
Spears' mother, father and brother have been "working closely with the LAPD for weeks" to get her back in the hospital for psychiatric care, Us Weekly magazine and TMZ reported.
Sources told TMZ that the cops knew an intervention was coming, referring to Spears by the code name "The Package."
TMZ reported that Spears' new psychiatrist visited her Wednesday (the site says she is under the daily care of a doctor for her bipolar disorder) and decided she needed hospitalization — partly because of her reckless driving and partly because of her "downhill behavior."
"She was driving around her neighborhood like a madwoman," a Spears family source told People magazine. "Britney has been prescribed medication which she refuses to take. This is just another sad, sad evening."
Earlier Thursday, Internet rumors claimed that the singer had attempted suicide, but those were refuted by the family.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that an L.A. County Superior Court judge signed a "5150" order — meaning Spears is a danger to herself and others — forcing her to be held for 72 hours.
But Allan Parachini, spokesman for the L.A. County Superior Court, told FOXNews.com that as far as the court knows, no order was signed, and it is actually not necessary for a judge to sign a 5150.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ there is a "good possibility" the 5150 will be extended to 14 days.
Spears “had been up since Saturday without any sleep. But that was a good situation for her to be in because she would be too exhausted to protest going in," a source told Us Weekly.
Psychiatrist James E. Walton, who has many celebrity clients but does not treat Spears, told FOXNews.com that it's "about time" Britney was hospitalized.
"She needs to be in some kind of treatment," he said. "She's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that is treated with a host of different medications, but you have to give the medications a chance to work. Evidently, she hasn't."
Walton said Spears' behavior is common among those suffering from bipolar disorder.
"They don't like the downs they get from the disorder, but they like the euphoria of the mania and often times will go off their meds at that time," he said. "The meds tend to stabilize their mood, causing them to not experience the euphoria. It is also not uncommon for bipolar disordered individuals to not sleep at night for days at a time. It's part of the manic behavior."
Watson said he believes that if Britney was admitted under a 5150, it was probably meant to convince her to take her medication.
"If she is cooperative and takes her meds and allows for some form of treatment to begin, she will probably be released after the 72 hours," he said. "If she refuses to cooperate and does not allow some form of treatment, and continues to appear to be a danger to herself or others, she can be held for an additional 14 days."
Spears can refuse all treatment but cannot refuse the final evaluation that determines her status, he added.
When Spears was admitted to the hospital, she was on Adderall, a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, and was taking up to 10 laxatives a day, TMZ.com reported. She also accused her mother of "sleeping with my boyfriend."
Lynne Spears and Spears' paparazzo boyfriend Adnan Ghalib reportedly drove to the hospital in the same car.
Spears' parents were also reportedly arguing with her purported manager/friend Sam Lutfi in the hospital over who has control of her care.
The scene on Thursday was reminiscent of Jan. 3, when police were called to Spears' home after she refused to return her two young sons to ex-husband Kevin Federline, who has custody.
Officers had paramedics haul Spears to a hospital for undisclosed reasons. She was released after a day and a half in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
FOXNews.com's Hollie McKay, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.