Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier wants to fight human trafficking by giving police investigators more time to hunt down the exploiters.
Olivier plans to introduce an ordinance at the Nov. 21 council meeting that changes the way therapists at massage parlors are licensed.
Some massage parlors have been known to be fronts for prostitution.
The police department currently does time-consuming background checks on massage therapists before issuing them a license to work. Under Olivier's ordinance, massage therapists would still need a license but it would be issued by the California Massage Therapy Council.
With the Massage Therapy Council doing background checks, Olivier said, Fresno police would be freed from desk duty to conduct more investigations on the streets.
Police would continue doing background checks on massage parlor owners.
Olivier at a news conference in front of police headquarters on Thursday said many women and men, often very young, are victims of sexual human trafficking.
"They have nobody looking out for them," Olivier said. "They have no human freedom."
Olivier said impetus for the proposed ordinance comes from community groups and citizens. He said they include officials from the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Mollie's House (a home for young victims of human trafficking) and the Central Valley Justice Coalition.
Olivier is calling his proposal the ETHIC of Fresno Act. ETHIC stands for Ending the Trafficking of Humans in the City.
Olivier's ordinance would set hours of operation for massage parlors from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and prohibit the parlors from using sexual material in their advertising.
Olivier said the city currently has no restrictions on operating hours or advertising content.
According to the police, Olivier said, most of Fresno's approximately 200 licensed massage parlors operate legally.
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