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N.Y. police cracking down on ‘quality-of-life’ violations

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NEW YORK — Police have issued scores of summonses for panhandling, prostitution and other offenses in recent days as part of a renewed crackdown on quality-of-life violations, officials said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the arrests Tuesday while unveiling the initiative, dubbed Operation Clean Sweep.

After being consumed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and subsequent efforts to tighten security, the 40,000-officer Police Department is "now back focusing on quality of life," Kelly said.

The operation harks back to Kelly's previous tenure as police commissioner, when in 1993 he ordered a roundup of homeless men known for wiping down car windows and demanding change as payment.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also targeted the so-called squeegee men and other petty offenders, theorizing they created a disorderly environment that emboldened other criminals. Bloomberg has adopted similar strategies to try to preserve the city's dramatic drop in crime over the last decade.

"We have said repeatedly that we are not going back," the new mayor said. "We are going to take the better city that was bequeathed this administration and make it even safer."

Since Friday, officers deployed to problem spots have issued 190 summonses for squeegee violations, drinking alcohol in public, public urination, prostitution, panhandling and illegal peddling.

In addition, arrests have been made in 58 prostitution and 18 peddling cases, and 107 homeless people have been referred to or placed in shelters, according to police statistics.

New York Police Department: www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/nypd/home.html