FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Prostitution busts at massage parlors around Fort Wayne over the last few years could also lead to changes in city law.
Monday night, the Fort Wane-Allen County Board of Health heard about the possibility of creating a new ordinance under the health department to ensure such establishments stay sanitary.
The idea started a few months ago when city officials started discussing making amendments to the current city code for massage establishments. The health department is not currently in charge of enforcing the city code.
“Some concerns were shared [by law enforcement] about sanitation issues they may have observed in the several years of inspecting these types of facilities,” Mindy Waldron, the administrator for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, said.
While police were investigating illegal prostitution in some massage parlors, Waldron said they saw other practices that raised red flags.
“They saw activity or services that had to do with bathing and there were concerns with the table or room and how is that supposed to be cleaned so it doesn’t transmit disease,” Waldron said. “In the rooms they came across illegal sexual activity, what then happens to that room to ensure it’s safe for the person who comes in next to actually have a massage? It’s an overall question of general cleanliness, sanitation and disease prevention. What if they use implements? So, general sanitation concerns related to those types of activities is what was shared with us.”
The city code does include sanitation requirements, and the health department can issue orders to make sure businesses comply. But, revisions could make the language specific. There was also the discussion of the health department creating a new ordinance of its own, but the board decided not to and to respond to each situation when it arises.
“They opted due to limited resources, and it’s very hard,” Waldron said. “We’re very stretched as it is, not to develop our own ordinance on that but work with the city folks that already have an ordinance and see how we can collaborate together, and more respond situationally, or provide our guidance, or order some changes within these facilities,”
Waldron also wanted to point out that if the ordinance had passed, any massage business that has a license from the state or has a certificate from the state board would have been exempt from these extra inspections.