Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Metro wants county’s weaker prostitution laws to match city’s

Metro Police say workers in the illegal sex industry know it’s better to be busted for solicitation in the unincorporated county rather than in the city of Las Vegas.

Metro vice officers, who patrol both jurisdictions, want Clark County to tighten its laws by bringing them more in line with the city’s ordinances.

Vice officers on Tuesday presented county commissioners with two proposed ordinance amendments aimed at closing the gap between city and county laws.

“It boils down to what side of the street you’re on,” Metro Sgt. Donald Hoier said.

One change would make it easier for police to arrest prostitutes who try to entrap undercover officers. Prostitutes who believe they might be dealing with an undercover officer often ask the officer to touch them or behave in other inappropriate ways as a test, said Metro Vice unit Lt. Karen Hughes.

In the city, such a screening technique is grounds for arrest, but not so in the county, she said.

“The girl that is out there looking for a date with a guy, that is not a prostitute, is not going to go to those extremes,” she said. “The city ordinance has that language in it. We’ve used it. It’s successful.”

The proposed amendment to the county code doesn't include a provision in the city ordinance that makes it illegal to ask an undercover officer if he is a cop, Hughes said.

The second proposal would allow police to arrest prostitutes who loiter in areas of resorts other than the casino floor. It targets prostitutes where they work — namely in resort hallways that aren’t open to the general public without a key.

Prostitutes are sometimes led past security by someone else and will loiter in the hallways to attract customers, Hoier said. The proposed change would allow Metro to arrest them for loitering.

Commissioners could bring back the proposed changes for a vote at a later meeting.

Metro’s Special Investigations Unit plans to propose a change to the way strip club operators work at a later date.

The proposed change would hold club owners, or the business license owner, key employees on duty and dancers responsible for dancers who engage in prostitution in a club. Currently, only licensees can be cited.

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