Massage therapy certification could help crack down on prostitution, human trafficking in Natrona County

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CASPER, Wyo. — Massage therapy in Natrona County could eventually require certification similar to education required of tattoo and piercing specialists.

However, the Casper-Natrona County Board of Health say that certification they already require of tattoo and piercing practitioners and the massage therapy certification they’re contemplating would require extra teeth for enforcement in the county.

The Board of Health discussed the issue for the second meeting in a row Thursday, MAy 16, after Licensed Massage Therapist Chaz Gilmore told them in April he thought certification should be required in Natrona County and Wyoming.

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Dr. Mark Dowell said on Thursday that he had reviewed the way Colorado licenses therapists and said he thought certification in Natrona County would be a good thing for the board to pursue.

He said that rather than implementing a licensing program as extensive as Colorado has, he thought that a mandatory education program could be sufficient.

Environmental Health Program Manager Ruth Heald said the education program could include things like the blood-born pathogen training offered to tattoo and piercing specialists.

However, Heald said that the certification the Board of Health requires is not necessarily enforceable.

“We don’t get a lot of support from law enforcement,” she said.

That is because the City of Casper does not have an ordinance in place mandating the training. Heald added that law enforcement will respond if they’re given information that underage individuals are being pierced or tattooed, but that without stronger teeth to their mandate, law enforcement was unable to provide the needed enforcement.

Heald also said that a big reason to implement massage therapy standards would be to help crack down on prostitution and human trafficking.

But she said it would be important for any mandate to apply throughout the County, because if only Casper were to adopt an ordinance strengthening the regulations, uncertified practitioners could simply reopen outside of Casper’s jurisdiction.