Hawaii police say sex with prostitutes needed to bust them
In movies, undercover cops running prostitution stings bring out the handcuffs as soon as there's an agreement to exchange money for a sex act. They don't usually wait to receive the service.
But police in Hawaii have said they need the flexibility to have sex with prostitutes, and have fought to save a state law that has allowed them to do so. Civil-rights groups and victims' advocates call that position ridiculous.
"We are near certain that no other state in the nation allows for this type of 'interpersonal' and highly problematic 'investigative tool' to facilitate prostitution arrests," the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery wrote to lawmakers last week ahead of a state Senate committee hearing regarding the law on Friday.
The Honolulu Police Department argued that if the exemption were deleted, prostitutes would engage in "cop checking". In other words, they would demand that sex occur before money changes hands so they could filter out officers.
The furore over the exemption came up last month as lawmakers begin debating how to strengthen the state's anti-prostitution statutes. Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives voted to preserve the exemption, but the state Senate's Judiciary Committee on Friday deferred a vote on it until next Friday.
After a wave of outrage last week, committee chairman Clayton Hee vowed to remove the exemption because, he said, letting police have sex with prostitutes was "nonsensical".