Viewpoint: Woodbury police undercover investigation was over the topWere any other eyebrows besides my own raised by the recent front page story regarding arrests made at a local massage parlor (“Police arrest three at local massage parlor Nov. 4”)?
By: John Wood, Woodbury Bulletin
Were any other eyebrows besides my own raised by the recent front page story regarding arrests made at a local massage parlor (“Police arrest three at local massage parlor Nov. 4”)?
As explained in the article, Woodbury police officers conducted a months long undercover investigation of possible illegal sexual activity occurring at Eastern Massage and Spa. The investigation climaxed with the arrest of three people.
The eyebrow raising part is the apparent ardor with which this investigation was pursued by the Woodbury Public Safety Department. This quote from the criminal complaint says it all: “Employees engaged in sexual contact with the undercover officers in consideration for money.” Some of that money consists of, presumably, our tax dollars.
The concerns here are many. First of all, I have great respect for Woodbury’s Police Department, however their reputation could be tarnished by deliberately engaging in sexual activity even if it means bringing this investigation to a happy ending. Isn’t that illegal? And, was it really necessary? One wonders how this evolved. Were volunteer officers solicited for this special duty? How about married officers?
And the payoff for such an energetic investigative pursuit seems, well, anticlimactic; two employees arrested and charged with misdemeanors along with one hapless john.
There are better ways to spend our tax dollars other than mounting full scale undercover operations against low level vice crimes. This was not violent crime, nor was it drug related, nor did it involve minors. It was titillating and a waste of resources at best, a blemish on the Woodbury’s Public Safety Department’s reputation at worst.
Put in the context of another Woodbury Bulletin front page article detailing the Washington County Attorney’s office possible inability to further investigate murder cases due to a lack of resources, and it makes the Woodbury Public Safety Department’s dalliance seem more like a group of overeager adolescent boys at a school dance rather than adults involved in a serious committed relationship.
No one in Woodbury wants massage parlors springing up all over town. We have a reputation as a family friendly community and we need to keep that reputation. But the Eastern Massage and Spa does not appear to be an organized, widespread prostitution ring. It was not the tip of the iceberg.
There must have been a more low key way to shut them down rather than go all the way with an undercover sting. I hope in the future that the Woodbury PD will make better choices when confronted with a similar situation. Preserve the department’s reputation and abstain from a full scale operation.
John Wood is a Woodbury resident.