New York City

Occupational Licensing for Times Square Street Characters?

One NYPD sergeant recommends it

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As you no doubt know, on Sunday a man dressed as Cookie Monster was arrested in Times Square after allegedly shoving a child and cursing at his mother when she didn't tip him fast enough. The local media ate it up like a box of Tagalongs, just like we did when a guy dressed as Elmo yelled anti-Semitic slurs, and when Spider-Man allegedly punched a woman, and when Super-Mario allegedly groped another tourist. And when Dora the Explorer gets busted for indecent exposure, we'll have total coverage of that, too! These incidents all happened in Times Square, which has become mobbed with costumed characters in the past year. In the wake of all this media attention, the drumbeat for banning the performers from the area is growing louder, and now the president of the Sergeant Benevolent Association tells us he has a plan.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly noted this week that "dressing up in one of those costumes and posing for photos is not a violation of the law," but NYPD Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeant Benevolent Association (SBA), thinks that gives the city all the more reason to want to compel these people to get licensed. "Let them get licenses and let the city council pass a law that allows us to enforce the law and summons people," Mullins told us today. "Let them submit their fingerprints. They're dealing with kids, they're taking pictures with tourists. It's a reflection on New York."

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  1. Not sure how occupational licensing would actually prevent the public harm committed by these individuals. The rationale behind occupational licensing is that certain types of occupations require specialized training, along with minimum experience and character, because the nature of the work performed/services being provided subjects the public to undue risk if it is not performed properly, or if bad people are allowed to engage in the activity.

    I read the linked article. Based on what I read, it does not appear that there is any real rationale for licensing these street actors. I don’t see how licensing street actors would be a guard against the bad conduct that occurred. From what I read, we have several incidents of at least simple assault (I assume its a crime in the NYC). It seems that the New York authorities are upset about these street actors creating a negative public impression. There is a solution to the problem. Arrest the creeps, prosecute them, and put them in jail (or a mental institution), to keep them away from the public.

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