Amid complaints about Times Square, police announce new unit

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

De Blasio, Bratton admit Ray Kelly was right on Times Square.

NEW YORK — Police have announced a new unit dedicated to patrolling Times Square following weeks of complaints about the panhandling tactics of costumed characters such as Elmo and Batman and topless women covered in body paint. Panhandling by bare-breasted women and others dressed as children’s characters received more official scrutiny Wednesday, as Mayor Bill de Blasio created a second panel to address the issue and the New York Police Department detailed plans for a new, beefed-up unit to patrol Times Square.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 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. It was still at least 100 as recently as a few months ago, but then Bratton’s braintrust cut the number to just 47 — even as the scourge of Cookie Monsters, bare-breasted “models” and so on exploded. “What happened was that for years we had the ‘Impact Cops’ in Times Square,” a source told The Post. “But that was a Kelly thing, so a few months ago, they transferred half of the officers there to other commands.” Restoring the squad is no cure-all, of course.

As CBS2 Political reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the costumed characters and topless painted ladies seen around the Times Square pedestrian plaza will soon get a whole lot of company in blue uniforms. The officers “will be expected to address crime and quality-of-life issues related to the city’s number one tourist destination,” the message states. “Times Square is an important piece of real estate in New York City,” said Chief of Department James O’Neill. “We have to pay attention to what goes on there.” Right now 47 cops patrol the area, he said. Officers can’t take action unless they see someone breaking the law — and current law permits both toplessness and panhandling, as long as it’s not aggressive. Better yet, the de facto admission that Ray Kelly knew what he was doing on one front just might prompt the mayor and police commissioner to look at other Kelly policies they’ve tossed out.

The officers 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 proliferation in the city’s most central tourist location of topless women, known as desnudas, who wear body paint and solicit tips for photographs. O’Neill said the idea is for the same cops to work the same posts every day to get familiar with the people and the territory, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported. 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. 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.

The NYPD is recruiting officers for the new unit even before the mayor’s Times Square Task Force decides whether to dig up the pedestrian mall, or what other steps to take. They were recording every step we take.” The developments came a day after The News reported that the costumed hustlers were now hassling people in other tourist-rich parts of the city like the Battery, Columbus Circle and Coney Island.

That may change if new regulations are passed based on the findings of a task force announced last week by Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. 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.

A turf war erupted on Tuesday 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. There’s historic issues down there, with not only the costume characters, but there’s also the issue of people selling tickets illegally down there,” O’Neill said of the Battery. “As has been the case in Times Square, where this behavior originated, a number of these characters have conducted themselves in an aggressive manner that runs directly counter to the family-friendly atmosphere we are working to maintain in ‘America’s Playground’,” he said.

The mother of an 8-year-old rape victim took the stand Wednesday against the accused predator — her former lover — and admitted she was in the room as the man attacked her daughter. Adams said Wednesday. “This becomes like a bad cold.” Phil Walzak, a senior aide to Mr. de Blasio, described the second panel as “more like a subgroup” of the original task force. But on Wednesday, CBS2 cameras found a huge police presence at the Battery – a big command post bus, loads of officers, and patrols where the characters usually stand in wait. “In New York City, we have a thriving tourist industry – 55-plus million people a year – and we want for tourists, and we want for residents to feel very welcome and not subject to the kind of harassment that can be such a nuisance.” “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.

Walzak said the administration would be “engaging a working group of officials and stakeholders from areas with high levels of tourism” to make sure the issue was addressed citywide. The councilman said the problem is easier to address on Coney Island because the beach is designated as parkland, requiring businesses to obtain vending permits. They will find little crime there: According to police statistics, roughly one crime is reported each day in the area of Times Square known to officers as the bow tie, because of the shape of streets around the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. The new officers will be placed in that area, which stretches from 42nd Street to 49th Street and between the two avenues, an area packed with New Yorkers and tourists at nearly every hour of the day. 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.

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 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. She said while she had heard that the topless women also had been there, seeing “half-naked people on the boardwalk isn’t so rare in the summer.” But Ms. 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.

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