This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter

South Brooklyn is a gem among our borough’s communities and the entire city. Business is booming, families are moving in and the community has never been more attractive. That’s why it is so critical that we take every measure possible to keep crime off our streets and protect our community.

Over the last several months, Brooklyn has seen an influx of illegal behavior occurring at local massage parlors and day spas. Concerned, proactive citizens have alerted law enforcement and elected officials of disturbing activity like erratic hours, clouded windows and the infrequent appearance of employees.

The diligent work of these community members helped spur action that has led to the closure of 17 prostitution rings fronting as spas, alerting the entire city that Brooklyn has a serious problem with this type of deplorable crime.

While residents and law enforcement keep an eye on the streets, I am pursuing legislative action to put an end to parlor-fronted prostitution. I have sponsored a bill with State Senator Marty Golden that would increase penalties against transgressors and expand the scope of what constitutes illegal behavior, strengthening law enforcement’s ability to intervene.

The legislation seeks to allow the closure of a day spa when a pattern of noise, disturbance, misconduct or disorder has been established, and prohibits operation from midnight to 5 a.m.

It would also make it more difficult for owners found guilty of criminal activity to keep their operations running by mandating early registration for licenses, prohibiting those whose licenses have been revoked from re-applying in that county for five years and requiring a facility to be closed upon any form of felony conviction.

Most importantly, the legislation addresses the two most disturbing aspects of this criminal behavior: prostitution and human trafficking. That’s why this legislation not only makes it easier to shut down a business found guilty of prostitution activity, but revokes the property and profit from any business or property owner found to be involved in human trafficking.

South Brooklyn has come so far in the last several years, and the sky is the limit moving forward. I encourage anyone with concerns about criminal behavior, questions about my legislation or suggestions on how to protect our community to contact my office, located at 7408 Fifth Avenue, by calling 718-987-0197 or emailing me at [email protected]

STAND WITH NICOLE