Amid Complaints About Times Square, Police Announce New Unit

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EXCLUSIVE: Aggressive panhandling costumed characters spread from Times Square to the Battery, Coney Island, sparking turf war.

NEW YORK – The New York Police Department is creating a new unit to patrol Times Square amid growing complaints over panhandling costumed characters and topless women. The NYPD is finally cracking down on the aggressive cartoon characters, naked women and other pushy panhandlers plaguing Times Square — by putting back the cops they took away earlier this year.The NYPD announced it was seeking volunteers to serve in Manhattan South’s “newly formed Times Square unit,” according to an internal message obtained Wednesday by The Daily News.The annoying costumed characters who prey on tourists in Times Square are moving into other parts of the city — and taking their aggressive panhandling tactics with them. Chief of Department James O’Neill said Wednesday officials will recruit 50 additional officers to the Crossroads of the World, bringing the number there to 100 by this fall.

The department is seeking applications from officers to join the patrol, which will be known as the Times Square Unit, according to a memo sent to all police commands on Tuesday. A turf war erupted between costumed characters in the Battery Park area, resulting in a fist fight between Minnie Mouse and the Statue of Liberty, 1010 WINS’ John Montone reported.

The officers who join the unit will patrol on foot, according to the memo, and will “be expected to build relationships with members of the local business community” and with security personnel “from the numerous hotels, restaurants, theaters and retail locations in the area.” The creation of the unit comes amid a debate over how to handle the growing number of topless women, known as desnudas, who wear body paint and solicit tips. And the beefed-up patrols won’t be doing much different when dealing with the Elmos, Spidermen and naked women because existing law limits their options unless the beggars break the law. Nobody steals.” “Honestly, yesterday I felt like there were more cops than tourists here,” said the 24-year-old Manhattan woman, who declined to give her last name. “We couldn’t even sit down to eat.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a co-chair on the task force, has already voiced his support for doing away with the plazas, which he says create a gathering spot that breeds problematic behavior. To those not abreast of the recent news, topless women covered in body paint — known as “desnudas,” Spanish for naked — have been parading around Times Square and pursuing tips by posing with tourists. Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested last week that one solution could involve the removal of the pedestrian plazas where the women, and many people dressed as cartoon characters or superheroes, pose for photos and ask for a tip in return.

When I was in college, I took an intro art class—you know, one of those classes to fulfill a requirement—and there may have been a nude model who came in one week, she may have been named Rhonda, I can’t honestly remember, and she may have had curly auburn hair—but the point is, I did not complain. Meanwhile, City Councilman Mark Treyger says Times Square is not the only place where costumed characters are aggressively hustling locals and tourists. He said the same thing is happening on Coney Island. “If one parent requests a photograph with one of the characters with their children, the other characters jump into the photograph and begin demanding money,” Treyger, a Democrat whose district includes Coney Island, told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

Now the administration is forming a second task force to include “officials and stakeholders from areas with high levels of tourism that are experiencing similar issues” like the Battery and Coney Island, said de Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton. But O’Neill said they wouldn’t just be restoring the number of cops to previous levels — they would also be deployed under the department’s new community policing model so they would be more effective on the job. “We’re looking to put the same people on the same posts during the same time period everyday. That has kept the panhandlers out of Father Duffy Square at the north end of Times Square, but it hasn’t kept them from infesting the Battery, which is also a city park, Burke said. “Everyone is empathetic, everyone recognizes the problem, everyone agrees that it’s illegal, everyone agrees that it’s not a positive experience for the visitor,” he said. “But no one is willing to come up with the enforcement.” Treyger said the Coney Island Boardwalk is also parkland and that hasn’t kept the panhandlers out. You’ve got terrifying, giant cartoon characters out of some acid trip wandering around, panhandlers by the dozen, swerving bikers, those goddamn hipsters on those goddamn hoverboards—all in this disgusting mélange. Thanks to a New York State Court of Appeals ruling in 1992, women in New York are free to walk about as bare-chested as men, but not for commercial purposes.

Times Square does not pass the Nana Test, which I like to use for most matters in my life: Would this place, or course of action, or e-mail I’m about to send make my Grandma Wilhelm proud? If not: it’s garbage, as garbage as the take-out chicken parmesan I once served her that she threw in the trash after one bite (“This isn’t homemade, William. The news has been rotten — the stock market convulsed, July was the planet’s hottest month on record and even now a noxious mass of hot air has enveloped much of America (wait! — that’s Donald Trump). The truth is, everyone’s so quick to rail on ole de Blasio—it’s the only thing cooler than e-cigarettes now, apparently—that they’re jumping on my back about this, even though I know, deep down, they all agree with me—deep down, they avoid Times Square like it’s a phone call from an unknown number.

But I couldn’t help myself last night and I texted him: “just remember: don’t be anyone other than Dante!” And he wrote back: “I would never dream of it.” (I’m telling you, the kid’s a philosopher.) And this morning I reread his text and felt more sure than ever: I’ll be the most unpopular mayor of all time, I’ll drive the Post into a full-on epileptic fit, I don’t care, I’m going to make this wasteland of a city into a place Nana would be proud of. Yet the same arguments raised against the desnudas and their amateur sisters were once used to keep women at the beach looking like sea-going Amish, although if any woman tried to swim in those head-to-toe costumes she risked drowning.

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