Neighbors complain of prostitution, human trafficking concerns at some massage facilities

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Davenport city leaders are fast-tracking new rules for businesses that provide massages. 

Aldermen passed the rule changes during Wednesday night’s committee of the whole meeting.

It includes an information requirement for massage centers.

That means police can walk in at any time and ask for state license and government ID from the owners.

Officers could stop operations immediately if they don’t provide it.

Right now, each Iowa massage therapist needs a state license but massage businesess aren’t regulated.  

Right now, police would need enough probable cause to get permission to enter a facility, but the proposed rules would allow officers to walk in at anytime.

The rules would also start regulating reflexology businesses, which currently don’t even need state licenses. 

The new ordinance would require reflexology business owners to apply for a city license and would hold owners to the same information standards as massage therapy centers.

It’s an ordinance city leaders have been working on since last fall, after they say neighbors went to aldermen with concerns about potential illegal activity in some of those facilities– including prostitution and sex trafficking.

“State law allows us to provide an ordinance regulating masasge therapy businesses so upon looking further into some of the complaints that we had we felt that this would be a good way to proceed,” says Sarah Ott, assistant to the city administrator/

“Provides us a little teeth and some tools to at a quick pace investigate these complaints. Normally when we– if we were to get a complaint it could take anywhere from a few months to a year to build a case and put investigation together,” says assistant police chief Jeff Bladel.

Aldermen also voted Wednesday night to expedite the process to move these rules forward.

They could be voted on by the full council next week and, if passed, would go into effect in about a month. 

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