Undercover investigation of massage parlors lands Flagstaff police chief on administrative leave

The Flagstaff police chief has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent investigation into how the department conducted an undercover operation in 2019 that targeted massage parlors, city officials confirmed on Aug. 4.

Dan Musselman has been the city’s police chief since late 2020 and first joined the department in 1995. The city said placing him on leave is not a disciplinary action.

Deputy Chief Scott Mansfield is serving as acting police chief in the meantime.

Flagstaff city officials have said there was nothing illegal about the officers’ conduct, and Musselman has defended their actions.

An investigation published in 2020 by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at Arizona State University found that federal undercover agents repeatedly paid for and engaged in sex acts with suspected victims in western Arizona.

In 2004, the Maricopa County prosecutor’s office rejected about 60 prostitution cases from the sheriff’s department because a half dozen deputies and posse members engaged in nudity and sexual contact during a prostitution sting.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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