New York City's top cop said Sunday that the bare-chested, body-painted ladies taking Times Square by storm aren't quite the problem that the touristic hot spot dealt with during his first tour of duty.
"If 25 years ago we thought we'd be talking about topless women and Elmo characters in the square as the major problem, we would not have believed it," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said on a radio show Sunday.
Speaking on former GOP mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis's AM 970 program, Bratton painted a picture of what 42nd Street used to look like.
"It was all theaters showing sex films and peep shows — and the drug dealing, the prostitution on the streets, three card monte, the wolf packs," Bratton said.
Still, Bratton said the NYPD is committed to properly balance the need for order in Times Square with indivudals' Constitutional rights.
The NYPD is one member of a multi-agency task force announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio to deal with what he described as quality-of-life issues.
Both de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly committed to clean up Times Square of the women, who have been come to be known as "desnudas."
Website Gothamist reported on Sunday that New York State police descended on Times Square as of the weekend, as well as some state Labor Department officials on hand to witness "working conditions."
A group topless women and men also marched through midtown Manhattan for National Go Topless Day. It is legal to be publicly topless in New York State as long as it isn't a profit-driven act.