In the past three weeks, 32 massage parlors in Bensonhurst and nearby neighborhoods have closed permanently, thanks to the efforts of the 62nd Precinct, with more poised to close, according to the precinct’s top cop.
Captain Anthony Longobardi, who arrived at the precinct in late September, said that when he arrived, there were 51 locations that had been flagged as massage parlors.
“Everyone had been complaining about them,” Longobardi noted during the October meeting of the 62nd Precinct Community Council, held at the station house, 1925 Bath Avenue. Indeed, he said, their existence was one of “two major complaints” (the other being a homeless woman on 86th Street) that he heard from the community when he arrived at the precinct last month.
According to Longobardi, besides the 32 massage parlors the precinct now considers closed (because of posted “For Rent” signs, awnings with the business names cut out, locations under renovation or new businesses already installed), six more are undergoing the nuisance abatement process overseen by the NYPD’s Civil Enforcement division — actions triggered by multiple arrests at the locations by 62nd Precinct officers — and four of those are currently closed.
In addition, five locations are still under investigation. To trigger nuisance abatement, arrests must be made on two occasions, and at each of these sites, there has only been a single instance of arrests being made. A successful nuisance abatement procedure results in the closure of the location.
Only three of the locations investigated by the precinct have been determined to be operating legally and legitimately, said Longobardi.
In total, 35 arrests were made since late September at various massage parlors in the neighborhood, said Longobardi.
The focus on the massage parlors has been laser-keen since spring, when upwards of 30 arrests were made and some 33 locations within the precinct visited by cops.
The crackdown on the massage parlors is the culmination of an effort that began earlier in the year, and included a series of meetings organized by Councilmember Mark Treyger in conjunction with Father Michael Gelfant at St. Finbar’s Church, which brought together the 62nd Precinct Vice Squad, elected officials including Assemblymember William Colton, Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden, representatives of Community Board 11 and the mayor’s office.
In addition, Treyger’s office involved other agencies such as the Brooklyn District Attorney’s human trafficking unit and the state Department of Labor to develop an effective response to the situation.
“I would like to thank all those involved, and in particular the 62nd Precinct Vice Squad for continuing to keep our community safe,” he said. “We cannot accept unlicensed businesses that engage in practices that violate human rights laws and reduce quality of life standards in our neighborhoods.”