By LESLIE COLLINS
October 24, 2012
Kansas City is closing a loophole in its prostitution ordinance.
In addition to prohibiting prostitution and the patronizing of prostitution, the ordinance will now ban the promotion of prostitution.
“The people that manipulate the ladies and men who are engaged in prostitution are the ones who really make the money off of it, and we didn’t have anything to go after them with,” City Council member John Sharp said.
City Council members approved the change during their Oct. 18 meeting.
The ordinance change was born out of the Gateway Crime Task Force, comprised of neighborhood leaders, city council members and law enforcement.
City Council member and Gateway Crime Task Force member Scott Wagner said they were looking for “low hanging fruit” to help law enforcement and prosecutors deal with issues that plague neighborhoods.
“It’s a very good conduit for us to be able to take some more people off the street that are making these things occur,” said Sgt. Brad Dumit of Kansas City Police Department’s Vice Section.
“The promoters make money off this, too, and are able to walk free if we can’t get their offense elevated to a state or federal level,” said City Prosecutor Lowell Gard.
Adding promotion of prostitution to the city’s ordinance language will change that, he said.
“In the neighborhoods this (prostitution) exists in, this is really a quality of life issue,” Wagner said. “The ability for our police department and our prosecutors to deal with it in the most extreme way they can with the aid of this ordinance not only deals with issues of crime but just quality of life issues in general.”
In addition to banning the promotion of prostitution, the fine in the ordinance has now been raised from $500 to $1,000.
“That $500 limit has been in place since before I started prosecuting in 1982,” Gard said. “$500 was a lot of money in 1982.”
Municipal judges will now be able to issue a fine of up to $1000, he said, which gives “judges enough latitude to show impact.”