Cops To Crack Down On Coney Island’s Costumed Characters

Photo: Dave Hosford / Flickr)
Photo: Dave Hosford / Flickr)

In response to pressure from local politicians, the city is sending an additional 20 officers to Coney Island this summer to clear out costumed characters and panhandlers who have been hassling residents and visitors in the neighborhood’s amusement district, officials announced Monday.

After City Hall moved aggressively last year to address quality of life issues in Times Square — particularly the topless women who were asking for tips to take pictures with tourists — City Councilman Mark Treyger, Senator Diane Savino, Borough President Eric Adams, and newly-elected Assemblywoman Pamela Harris called for additional officers to be sent to Coney Island.

The extra officers will join a crew of 64 seasonal cops who were sent to Coney Island last summer — bringing the total to 84. The parks department has also pledged to schedule more Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers in the area, particularly on weekends.

Community Board 13 Chairman Stephen Moran thanked the elected officials for their advocacy and said the increased police presence will make the area safer and more enjoyable for beachgoers.

“Law enforcement is essential for a safe community. Their efforts to make sure that visitors to Coney Island are not taken advantage of by those in costume are much appreciated,” Moran said.

The pressure on City Hall also drew in the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will launch an initiative to educate visitors about legal tipping. Last year, there were several incidents where costumed characters in Coney Island were caught illegally charging people in the boardwalk and amusement areas for photographs; alcoholic beverages were also being sold unlawfully on the beach, according to a press release from Treyger’s office.

Treyger said the activity had become a nuisance for residents and visitors to the neighborhood.

“I would also like to thank the Department of Consumer Affairs for agreeing to help make sure that this summer, pushy and belligerent scam artists will not be able to prey on working families who come to the Boardwalk and the amusement area for an enjoyable family outing, and that beach goers will not have to traverse the sandy shores of the People’s Playground while worrying about being pestered by illegal vendors,” he said in a press release.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton agreed that panhandlers had become a nuisance and pledged to maintain the neighborhood’s family-friendly appeal.

“Coney Island has long been a classic destination for amusement, recreation and family fun, particularly during the summer months,” he said in the press release. “The NYPD has worked collaboratively with the other City agencies, as well as local community and elected leaders, to ensure that residents, area businesses and visitors continue to enjoy all that Coney Island has to offer within a safe and secure environment.”

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