WICHITA, Kan. Customers paying for massage services in Wichita can now count on the city to make sure the business is legit. "Things have been not regulated for so long that it's been way past due for something to change," said Kelli Foster, therapist and owner of Bohemia Healing Spa in Delano.
Foster says she is 100% on board with regulating massage businesses. City leaders believe the new ordinance will help keep human sex trafficking out of Wichita. "They're using people under the disguise of a legal business to conduct sex-for-hires," said Capt. Kevin Mears, Wichita Police Department.
WPD says from 2014 to 2015, the number of investigations and arrests in places claiming to be spas nearly doubled. "It definitely puts more restrictions on them," said Mears. "It gives us more tools to be able to go after them and try to keep them out of the community."
There is a cost for businesses to be licensed and therapists to get a permit. "I think that little bit extra that you pay just does legitimize your business a little bit more," said Foster.
She hopes it will also keep the occasional customer with the "wrong idea" out of shops like hers. "We were like, oh my gosh," said Foster. "This guy wanted, you know, in writing ... he even wrote down specific areas he wanted treated and they were inappropriate."
Mears says Kansas is one of only four states without some type of law to regulate the industry. "Our goal is to address some of those issues and try to prevent those type of illegal operations coming into the city of Wichita," he said.
WPD will conduct spot checks on massage businesses, but most of the enforcement will be complaint driven. If you know about a business or therapist acting inappropriately, you are asked to call police.
You can read the entire ordinance on the City of Wichita's Website. We've posted a link to this page.