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Colorado Springs City Council explores solutions for illicit sexual activities in businesses

Police Department leads discussion during work session on Monday
Colorado Springs City Council to discuss illicit sexual activities in businesses
Posted at 2:15 AM, Apr 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 02:57:20-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs City Council heard a presentation from the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) on Monday regarding illicit sexual activities in business, and how the crimes have been handled in the past.

You can read the PowerPoint presentation HERE.

In the presentation, it lists options CSPD has when it comes to such illegal operations, like prostitution or pimping out of a business, such as a massage parlor.

Criminal charges could be sought for things like prostitution, pandering, and pimping. Officers could also focus on unlicensed practices. Or, a Public Nuisance Order (PNO) seizure could be employed. "While we're using the Public Nuisance Order, we don't ignore the criminal side. We do those in conjunction with each other," said Police Chief Vince Niski.

City Council President Richard Skorman said for a PNO, the building owner would be contacted and told there is illicit activity happening on their property. The owner would then have to stop the activity, or risk the space being seized. "It's much easier than going through the court system. That's a process that sometimes can get appealed, and delayed, and this is something that really has a very quick impact... They're criminally charged only as it relates to seizing their property... We don't want to seize property, it's not our purpose, but sometimes the threat of that makes it so that the landlord will evict the tenant," said Skorman.

CSPD presentation points for City Council
Points from CSPD's presentation for City Council.

The presentation from CSPD said they are studying the long-term effectiveness of certain responses, versus their efficiency. For instance, a full felony case could require upwards of 300 staffing hours, while a PNO would need around 100 staffing hours.

Skorman said Aurora put significant ordinances in place and were able to close their illicit massage parlors down. However, he said they just ended up moving to Arvada. Still, Skorman said Colorado Springs City Council could decide to adopt new ordinances through this process, like banning spas that have been closed before from reopening within the city limits. However, the city attorney has concerns about the constitutionality of some of the Aurora ordinances.

Still, Skorman has many questions that must be answered. "If we are able to get them to leave where they currently are, are they just going to open up somewhere else?... What happens to the women who are making their living one way or another, whether it's being forced to, or whether they're doing it because of choice, what happens to them?" asked Skorman.

According to the presentation, the Metro Vice, Narcotics, & Intelligence Unit will be expanding their staff this year. However, there's only a few positions to be added. Chief Niski said their staffing numbers are significantly less this year when compared to recent years. "Right now, we've actually mandated that most of our specialized units will go down to one less than they're authorized. Just to ensure our patrol staffing is where, I don't want to say where it needs to be, but where we can keep it for the time being... For me to come to council or go to the mayor right now and say I need ten people or five people for a specialized unit, would really not be in the department's best interest, because we need patrol officers," said Chief Niski.

COVID-19 did affect the number of undercover operations that were performed by the unit, but as the vaccine becomes more widespread, CSPD will be able to conduct more.