Vice is as synonymous with Super Bowl week as football players and exclusive parties.
But Valley police are working to discourage pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers from joining the festivities. As officers crack down on sex merchants, some cities are issuing licenses to the horde of erotic dancers now arriving to legally undress in local strip clubs.
The Phoenix Police Department is focusing on prostitution in the run-up to the championship game Sunday, said Sgt. Joel Tranter, a department spokesman. Most Super Bowl visitors have cash to spend, and the event’s party atmosphere is hospitable to those willing to pay for sex.
“We do know the prostitutes will be coming to Phoenix,” Tranter said, “if they’re not here already.”
Phoenix police are working with other Valley police departments in its anti-prostitution operation.
That collaboration has already led to an arrest. Police broke up a suspected child prostitution ring in Mesa three weeks ago.
Tranter said the ring likely set up, allegedly offering the services of three teenage girls, to take advantage of major events coming to town, including the Super Bowl.
Prostitution is common around the nation’s largest single sporting event, Tranter said. That was true 12 years ago, when Tempe hosted the game.
Police are targeting all those involved in sex sales: pimps, prostitutes and their customers.
“Don’t be surprised, if you show up to negotiate a sex-for-money deal, that it’s a Phoenix police officer and you end up getting arrested,” Tranter said.
While prostitutes aren’t welcome, many strippers are already doing their First-Amendment-protected work throughout the Valley.
Scottsdale and Phoenix have sexually oriented business ordinances that require dancers to have a city license to legally strip. The new arrivals have been applying for that paperwork in recent weeks.
“We’ve certainly had a noticeable increase in the activity,” said Dave Smith, a Phoenix license service manager.
The city won’t have a count of how many erotic dancers it imported for the Super Bowl until next month.
In Scottsdale, where most of the high profile parties are happening, the strip clubs don’t necessarily need the extra dancers. Todd Borowsky, owner of Skin Cabaret, said last week that he didn’t expect to hire traveling dancers.
As always, police intend to enforce all laws while working around the Super Bowl, Tranter said.
However, they do not expect to spend much time tracking illegal drug sales.
“The people who are coming here, the business folks, it’s not the same clientele that’ll be walking down the street buying meth and cocaine,” Tranter said.