Flagstaff police chief on leave due to investigation into undercover sting

Dan Musselman has been the city’s police chief since late 2020 and first joined the department...
Dan Musselman has been the city’s police chief since late 2020 and first joined the department in 1995.(Facebook)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:40 PM MST

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — The Flagstaff police chief is on administrative leave after questions were raised about how his department conducted an undercover investigation involving massage parlors. 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.

An independent, outside consultant will review protocols and procedures from the 2019 undercover sting into prostitution rings at massage parlors. City spokeswoman Sarah Langley said the review would not target individual officers involved in the undercover operation. “The purpose of the review is to determine what policies and methodologies could be used, as best practices, in future operations should they occur,” she said in an email.

Law enforcement experts criticized the operation, saying those officers absolutely violated state law, engaging in unethical behavior and allowing women they believed to be trafficked to engage in sex acts with them. Musselman took over as chief after that investigation.

Other police agencies have conducted similar undercover operations. 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.