City Council passes measures to fight sex trafficking of youth

The City Council passed a new ordinance requiring Minneapolis massage businesses to be licensed and a resolution advancing the city’s efforts to fight sex trafficking of youth at its meeting this morning.

The ordinance, authored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward), calls for a $50 annual licensing fee for home-based massage businesses and a $140 license fee for commercial operators. It’s designed to help the city weed out bad operators and prevent sex trafficking.

The resolution, also authored by Glidden, has the city pledging to combat trafficking of youth and establishes a new city committee to coordinate work on the issue and develop a method for tracking the city’s progress in fighting the problem.

“We’ve taken innovative steps in recent years and made some good progress, but sexual trafficking of juveniles still remains a significant issue in Minneapolis and throughout the United States,” Glidden said. “The City of Minneapolis is an established leader on this issue through the work of the Minneapolis Police Department and other departments, and I’m happy that we’re taking additional steps to continue this fight and look forward to working with our many partners in our efforts to end sexual trafficking of juveniles.”

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Crimes Against Children’s Unit has investigated 64 cases of juvenile sex trafficking and arrested 31 suspects since February 2011, according to city officials. Of those arrested, 23 have been charged with felonies.

The police department added new resources this year to devote more attention to the sex trafficking problem, including two full-time investigators and two investigators assigned to the Absenting Project — a joint program with Hennepin County Child Protection that helps youth runaways.

The city’s health department has also trained people at school clinics to look for signs of sex trafficking to help at-risk youth.