Human trafficking is something you may have heard about on the news. You may have also heard that illicit massage parlors are commonly used by human traffickers. A new ordinance in unincorporated Douglas County aims to reduce this crime with licensing and inspections.
After a formal public hearing Tuesday, April 11, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners voted unanimously to establish business licensure requirements for massage facilities with the sole purpose of preventing human trafficking in Douglas County.
“Unfortunately, illegitimate massage parlors have become a hotbed for human trafficking,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon, Board Chair. “This ordinance is a result of working together with our state and federal legislators, our Douglas County Sheriff, and our District Attorney. Together, we can help protect our community – including our legitimate business owners – by allowing for licensing and inspections.”
While municipal governments have been regulating massage parlors through local business licensing, there has been no provision in state law to allow county governments to do the same for businesses located in unincorporated areas. That changed in 2022 when the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 1300, allowing counties to regulate massage businesses.
In addition to licenses already required for massage providers, the Douglas County ordinance will:
- Require each new massage facility in Douglas County to obtain a license prior to operating
- Require each existing massage facility to apply for a license by the end of 2023
- Require applicants to be at least 18 years old
- Require applicants to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in any federal, state, or municipal court for offenses related to human trafficking such as prostitution, fraud, theft, embezzlement, or money laundering, or if they must register as a sex offender
- Require the applicant to disclose if they have previously been part of a massage business
- Require background checks
License applications will be reviewed by the Sheriff’s Office and County staff. The ordinance goes into effect May 20, 2023. At that time, current businesses will be able to visit douglas.co.us to begin the licensing process. Read the full ordinance, or watch the public hearing.
Watch this video for a message from local leaders about human trafficking.