Police draft ordinance to crack down on illicit activity at massage parlors

Cedar Rapids Police are working to draft an ordinance meant to crack down on illicit activity at area massage parlors. 

Right now 19 massage parlors in Cedar Rapids are advertising their sex services online. 

The rub maps website lists the businesses, five of which say they are closed including Spa Magic where police just made a prostitution arrest in May. 

The Cedar Rapids Police Department is aware of the rub maps site. 

"It’s really hard for police officers to see that to say gosh there’s not really a whole lot of tools that we have in order to shut a business down like this in fact there really aren’t any," says Amanda Grieder, SAFE CR Program Manager. 

That’s why the Department is drafting the ordinance which would require massage parlors to be licensed through the city, that way if they violated the ordinance the city could legally take action. 

Police believe it’s best to target businesses as a whole as opposed to undercover stings that might catch a few sex workers who may be human trafficking victims themselves. 

"We believe that it would be more effective to also look at the business owner who’s also allowing these sex acts or illegal activity to happen," says Grieder. 

We spoke with a licensed massage therapist and business owner in town who says she has seen an increase in customers requesting illegal services over the last year. 

"We even had one who was so blatant that he wrote it on his client intake form, his health paperwork that he wanted something else other than therapeutic massage and body work. Which was stunning, that someone would be so brazen to ask for something that was illicit," Wahneta Dimmer, the Owner of Hands In Harmony told us.

She is hoping the proposed laws will protect reputable businesses like hers. 

"I’m hoping that by the time we get something in front of the city that they’ll agree the language is effective," Dimmer says. 

The ordinance does include a section that requires the city to give notice and allows businesses the opportunity to fix a violation on their own, we are told it’s about giving business owners the benefit of the doubt. 

A focus group has held several meetings on this topic, including two today. 

The meetings are open to the public, upcoming meeting dates will be posted on the city website: http://www.cedar-rapids.org/

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