. . . To Eradicate Illicit 'Parlors'
San Gabriel Police Department and Others Take Part in No-Cost CAMTC Training Session
San Gabriel, CA - With law enforcement agencies turning increased attention toward combating the ills of prostitution and human trafficking, the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) is hosting a series of no-cost training sessions aimed at helping officers better understand the tools available to shut down illicit "massage parlors."
The San Gabriel Police Department is among the latest law enforcement agencies to have officers undergo the training, which was conducted March 25 in San Gabriel. With other law enforcement agencies also participating, the two-hour session focused on how law and code enforcement officers can save time, and money, while successfully shutting down criminal enterprises that advertise non-certified massage services as a cover for illicit activities.
The training sessions with CAMTC experts have been overwhelmingly well-received across the state, with one Santa Monica Police Department vice investigator calling it "useful in explaining the purpose and value of CAMTC" and praising "tools [that] will help not only our agency but law enforcement as a whole in its mission to combat prostitution and human trafficking" disguised as massage.
As officers receive the training they return to their cities with detailed knowledge on best practices for enforcement and updating ordinances to provide stronger weapons in the fight against illicit massage parlors.
Created following passage of a 2009 law that created a statewide certification for massage professionals in California, the CAMTC is a nonprofit public benefit organization that has certified thousands of massage professionals. To date, the council has successfully implemented a certification process set forth by the legislature, with a goal of protecting and maintaining public safety for consumers being treated by certified massage professionals.
"CAMTC is pleased to provide this training to law enforcement agencies across the state," said Rick McElroy, director of the CAMTC professional standards division. "We believe communication and information sharing are key components ensuring public safety by working together to close illicit 'massage parlors.' As the public demand for accessible therapeutic massage increases, it is critical that we work with all stakeholders to weed out the bad apples."
San Gabriel Police Capt. Darren Perrine, who hosted the March 25 training session, pointed to new challenges his city faces in the fight against illicit massage parlor businesses. He noted that although his city had taken the stance to sunset CAMTC, he has found value in the training. "In 2009, when SB731 came out, we had 10 full-body massage parlors — and now we have 54."
McElroy pointed to CAMTC's unquestionably successful track record, and said the organization is working closely with law enforcement agencies to address new challenges, like the over-concentration of massage parlors in cities that may need help strengthening and enforcing local ordinances. New proposals, which would to turn CAMTC duties over to a newly-created state agency, would be not only costly and ineffective, but could also have the unintended consequence of undoing the gains it has made in its first five years of existence.
"In its work to help protect the public and professionalize the massage industry, the CAMTC not only provides training for law enforcement, we have certified more than 50,000 massage professionals and closed 57 massage schools — before 2009, nobody was investigating schools," McElroy said. "As a nonprofit, public benefit organization, CAMTC has the ability to make its own policies. We can work way faster. I can hire as many investigators as I need. I don't have to wait on budgets [like a state agency]. We have the time and we have the resources and we're hitting human trafficking straight between the eyes."