Photo: NYPD Facebook

Photo: NYPD Facebook

NYPD has 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, reports the Associated Press.

The area, one of the busiest and most crowded in the nation, eventually was going to get new officers who would work regular shifts and be assigned to the same posts every day, but the past few weeks of attention accelerated the decision to recruit, the New York Police Department said.

In New York, toplessness and panhandling are legal. But that hasn't stopped the city's tabloids and some elected officials from calling loudly for action. Some have suggested regulating the transactions as a business, while others have floated the idea of uprooting pedestrian plazas.

By the fall, police hope to double the number of officers assigned to the Crossroads of the World, from 50 to 100, Chief of Department James O'Neill said.

The new officers will be tasked with getting to know the business owners, vendors and workers in the area in line with the neighborhood policing model being implemented in other precincts citywide, O'Neill said.

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