Davenport leaders look to close loopholes in massage businesses ordinance

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Aldermen are reviewing an amendment to an ordinance designed to crackdown on illicit massage businesses.

The amendment would strengthen penalties for businesses busted breaking rules and regulations set by the city.

At the committee-of-the-whole meeting on September 18, leaders had a chance to review the amendment.

Currently, the ordinance allows police to investigate businesses they suspect of practicing illegal activities, such as prostitution and human trafficking. It also allows police to preform compliance checks on the businesses. The businesses are required to be staffed by massage therapists who are registered with the state.

Businesses that are busted for failing to comply with rules must close for a minimum of two-weeks in Davenport and have the chance to re-open if they can prove their ability to comply with rules and regulations.

The original ordinance was passed back in March and since then 14 massage businesses have been closed down in Davenport.

Three of them have since re-opened.

Police say some of the closed businesses have found loopholes in the ordinance that allow businesses to re-open under a new name or under new ownership.

"The amendment is geared towards making sure that the businesses are not just re-opening under a different name and that they aren't returning to some of their prior practices," said Lieutenant Jason Smith of the Davenport Police Department.

The amendment gives the city an ability to shut down non-compliant businesses for an additional 12 months if they are busted breaking the rules twice in one year.

City leaders believe the amendment will help strengthen the ordinance.

No action was taken on the proposed amendment at the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Wednesday.

Alderman will need to take initial action on the amendment during their regular city council meeting next week.

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