- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has reportedly formed a multiagency task force to seek putting an end to topless women and costumed characters soliciting for tips in Times Square.

Mr. de Blasio told reporters Thursday that returning the Times Square pedestrian plaza into a functioning road is one of the options being considered by the task force, a local CBS affiliate reported.

“That’s a very big endeavor, and like every other option, comes with pros and cons, so we’re going to look at what those pros and cons would be,” the mayor said. “You could argue that those plazas have had some very positive impacts. You could also argue they come with a lot of problems, and a lot of the surrounding business community has certainly cited those problems. So we’ll give that a fresh look.”

In an earlier interview, Police Commissioner William Bratton said he supported opening Times Square back up to traffic.

“I’d prefer to just dig the whole damn thing up and put it back the way it was,” he told CBS. “It would eliminate this area where people just hang out. The activity is not occurring anywhere else in the area.”

There has been growing outrage over the nearly nude women walking Times Square who call themselves “desnudas,” Spanish for “naked.” Two uniformed NYPD officers were reassigned Wednesday after being caught posing for photos with the topless models, CBS reported.

Mr. Bratton said the NYPD is also looking into the labor practices of the desnudas’ so-called managers, whether taxes are being paid, residency requirements and other options, the station said.

“Millions of families and visitors come to Times Square every year to see and experience the bustling metropolis of New York City – the Crossroads of the World,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “Yet that experience has been diminished by the proliferation of topless individuals and costumed characters who too often harass people and expose families to inappropriate acts. To ensure all are welcome, and to continue the great success that is Times Square, the city will aggressively pursue every avenue for regulating these behaviors. This task force will identify the best legal and regulatory ways to move forward and keep Times Square the popular destination site for visitors and families from New York City and across the world.”

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