After weeks of complaints about costumed panhandlers and individuals in body paint, Police have announced a new unit dedicated entirely to Times Square.
According to police, plans to increase officers in the area were already in place, but the increase in complaints pushed them to move ahead faster than expected. This comes on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to start a task-force dedicated to figuring out how to handle costumed characters, and women in little more than thongs, called desnudas, that are targeting tourists for tips for photos, The New York Times reports.
While it is legal to panhandle and be in public topless in New York, there has been significant outcry from publications and public figures for police to take action. Some have gone as far as suggesting the removal of pedestrian plazas to solve the issue.
The goal is to have the number of officers present increase from 50 to 100 by this fall. The new team will spend time with area workers to help to understand their concerns. Even though crime is relatively low in Times Square, the team is also interested in addressing aggressive music sales and vendors that are wrongfully crossing business property lines.