Visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge have noticed a heightened security presence nearly a week after persons unknown climbed the cables to the bridge towers, swiped two 12-by-18-foot American flags and replaced them with flags that appeared to be bleached white.
While likely a high-spirited prank, the July 22 incident has raised concerns about a glaring breach in bridge security.
NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau has beefed up its surveillance, with foot patrols, helicopter sweeps and Marine Units on, above and below the iconic structure.
On Sunday night and into Monday, a helicopter hovered over the bridge for long periods before sweeping around the structure. One counterterrorism officer told the Brooklyn Eagle that the helicopters would continue the sweeps into the foreseeable future.
He added that the NYPD has video showing the white-flaggers in action, and were combining that with video from other sources to nail down the identities of the miscreants.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, just back from his Italian vacation, says the security breach was "a wake-up call."
"I take it very seriously," he told reporters. "I’m absolutely concerned, and we are taking measures right now to beef up security on the bridges, some short-term measures, and there’ll be long-term measures as well."
Last week, Borough President Eric Adams offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the perpetrators’ apprehension.
While the white flag incident may have been itself harmless, officials worry that terrorists will attempt to duplicate the pranksters’ methods.
The perpetrators covered the lights that illuminate the flags with large aluminum pans held in place with zip-ties.