Hawaii lawmakers closed a loophole in a bill April 17 that would have allowed police officers to have intercourse with sex workers as part of an investigations.
A state senate committee held a meeting on a prostitution bill that had been amended to retain an exemption allowing undercover cops to have sex with prostitutes in order to target pimps and johns for harsher penalties. Sex workers themselves would only be charged with misdemeanors under the bill.
While negotiation is still ongoing on the bill, the provision allowing cops exemptions to have sex with prostitutes is now out of the bill following public criticism.
"I suppose that in retrospect the police probably feel somewhat embarrassed about this whole situation… The police support the idea that sexual penetration shall not be an exempt permitted behavior by the police in making arrests on prostitutes." State Sen. Clayton Hee, Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee chairman
A department spokeswoman said that officers use verbal solicitation to conduct arrests. It is unclear why police lobbyists had previously pushed to have the exemption put into the proposed law.
"It's a sad day when people can put that out there as something that one of the largest police departments in the nation that's accredited that we would condone anything like that… [Officers] never have sex with prostitutes." Asst. Chief Susan Dowsett, Honolulu Police Dept.
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