An Elmo impersonator sits in Times Square. Along with the Times Square Alliance, uniformed officers spent Saturday passing out new fliers in the Midtown tourist destination reminding them tips for photos with characters are optional. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
The New York City Police Department launched an awareness campaign amid the growing number of incidents between costumed characters earning tips in a tourist-laden Times Square and police.
Along with the Times Square Alliance, uniformed officers spent Saturday handing out new fliers to passersby in the Midtown tourist destination.
"PHOTOS WITH COSTUMED CHARACTERS ARE FREE. TIPPING IS OPTIONAL," the flier reads in large bold letters.
In a statement, the department said the campaign equally targets the characters to remind them that they cannot legally charge for photos.
Late last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that complaints of aggressive characters who trade photos for tips had gone "too far."
His comments came soon after NYPD reportedly arrested six costumed characters at Times Square, including a rogue Spider-Man who punched an officer after the masked menace was arrested after the cop told tourists they didn't need to pay for a photo.
Bronx Councilman Andy King said plans to introduce legislation in August to regulate the rogue industry, requiring identification on all costumed characters working tourist hotspots.