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Music Festival Organizers Plan Greater Security to Prevent Drug-Related Deaths

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Organizers of the Electric Zoo music festival say they are planning tighter security this year, after two drug-related deaths occurred at last summer’s event.

The three-day festival, held in New York City over Labor Day weekend, will include drug-sniffing dogs, extensive pat-downs, and undercover officers who have a background in narcotics investigations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Last year, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the last day of the festival after the deaths occurred.

The festival’s promoters, Mike Bindra and Laura DePalma, said they plan to hold the festival at the same location. They note they have not yet received a site permit from the Department of Parks and Recreation, but added that usually happens later in the year.

If the festival takes place, fans will be required to view an anti-drug public service announcement online in order for their festival wristbands to activate. The event will start later in the day, to reduce exposure to the sun. In addition, the organizers will scrutinize vendors more closely. The festival may place “amnesty bins” at the gates, so fans can drop off illicit substances before they are searched. These bins are used at music festivals in Europe. They were also used last year at a music festival outside Atlanta called TomorrowWorld, which attracted 50,000 fans.

“We don’t want to be finger-wagging,” Mr. Bindra said. “‘Just say no to drugs,’ we can all agree, has been ineffective in the past.”

Last year’s Electric Zoo festival included safety measures such as on-site emergency treatment centers, free bottled water, and periodic safety announcements. After the event, the promoters brought together an advisory board of doctors, security consultants and DJs to prevent future drug-related deaths.

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