There is apparently an exemption in Hawaiian sex trafficking laws that allows for undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes while on the job, in an effort to help them more effectively catch the bad guys, obviously. A new law would have done away with the exemption, but that new law was amended following police testimony advocating for its preservation.
A Hawaii bill cracking down on prostitution was originally written to do away with the sex exemption for officers on duty, but it was amended to restore that protection after police testimony. The revised proposal has passed the state House and will go before a Senate committee Friday.
It's not immediately clear whether there are similar provisions in place elsewhere either at the state law or department policy level. But advocates were shocked that Hawaii provides an exemption to prostitution laws for police, suggesting it's an invitation for misconduct.
A state representative said that he didn't want to meddle with the provision, considering that he's not the one undercover. He says that he'd rather defer to the police and trust that they're not abusing the policy, but instead using it only when necessary to safely carry out their assignments.
Democratic state Rep. Karl Rhoads, the committee chairman, said police testimony convinced him to amend the proposal.
"It's a really murky area," said Rhoads, who represents a district that includes Honolulu's Chinatown, a longstanding epicenter of street prostitution. "I was reluctant to interfere in something that they face all the time. If they think it's necessary to not have it in the statute, this is one area where I did defer to them and say, 'I hope you're not having sex with prostitutes.'" [New York Times]