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Police Tighten Bridge Security After Manhattan Bridge Dance Party

Hundreds Attended 'Flash Mob' Party On Saturday Before NYPD Shut It Down

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — CBS 2 has learned that NYPD officers have been told to keep closer tabs on activity on city bridges, a directive issued two days after a flash mob party was held on the Manhattan Bridge’s walkway.

As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Monday, police said it was the fourth such security lapse in as many months.

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday night for a flash mob dance party, with DJs and a professional sound system, on the footpath along the bridge closer to the Brooklyn side.

Organizer Alex Shlaferman — who goes by the name Alex Xander – told CBSNewYork.com on Sunday that he wanted to go all out for his last event of the summer.

The energy at the event turned out to be electric, Xander said.

“You could have come to this event totally sober. You didn’t need to drink. You didn’t need to do any drugs,” Xander said. “It was such a vibrant experience — people were bouncing right off of each other.”

The party went on from 9 p.m. until about 1 a.m., when police shut it down, Xander said. The NYPD sent all the participants home, and arrested Xander and two DJs — identified in published reports individually as Giacomo Nacci and Brendon Risano, and together as “Bear Sauce” – on charges of disorderly conduct.

And while Xander told CBSNewYork.com the event was a great success and the arrests were worth it, some experts were not so amused by it all.

“Anything that happens on the bridge with huge amounts of people that isn’t under the control of police is a terrible security risk,” said terrorism expert Micah Halpern.

Halpern noted that the party was promoted on social media for days – a blow to the NYPD.

It was the fourth bridge security lapse in as many months.

Among them was an event on Memorial Day weekend, when an abandoned vehicle on the Brooklyn Bridge rattled nerves. Then on July 4, a “Spider-Man” wannabe rappelled down the landmark.

It begs the question: who is watching for more sinister behavior?

“These bridges are essential targets to the terrorist mindset, because they say to the terrorist world, ‘We’ve hit the heart of our target,’” Halpern said.

They have already tried. In 2002, authorities foiled an al-Qaeda operative’s plan to cut support cables on the Brooklyn Bridge.

In a statement the NYPD said: “It can’t be assumed we ‘don’t know’ about all such incidents. We make arrests when appropriate and we continue to monitor bridges daily.”

After the party Saturday, officers were given the directive to keep closer tabs on bridges. Many are under watch of cameras. On Monday, officers were posted at the Brooklyn Bridge.

“They patrol the bridge. Mostly when there’s protests and stuff they’ll patrol the bridge,” said resident Cyquan Smith. “They’ll come by with the captain, and everybody will pass by.”

“Isn’t there cop cars down that way [that] are supposedly watching the bridge? But I don’t think that’s enough,” said Brooklyn resident Harold Taberas.

The NYPD said it constantly reviews and adjusts security at potential targets across the city. Officials said bridges will remain under heightened alert.

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