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Hawaii lawmakers plan to end prostitution exemption

By Associated Press & Star Advertiser

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:54 p.m. HST, Mar 21, 2014


A key state lawmaker said Friday he plans to change a bill to end a police exemption under the state's prostitution laws.

Currently, police acting in the course of their duties in Hawaii are legally allowed to have sex with prostitutes. Law enforcement experts and women's advocates have called that provision unnecessary and an invitation to abuse.

This year, state legislators moved to revamp Hawaii's decades-old law against prostitution. They toughened penalties against pimps and those who use prostitutes. They also proposed scrapping the sex exemption for officers on duty. 

But Honolulu police said they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act. Otherwise, they argued, prostitutes would insist on sex to identify undercover officers. The legislation was amended to restore the protection and the revised proposal passed the House and is now before the Senate.

However on Friday, lawmakers said they again planned to change the bill -- this time to end the police exemption.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from citizens, advocates and lawyers who argued against the exemption. No police testified Friday. 

Sen. Clayton Hee, the committee's chairman, called the exemption nonsensical and said he would amend the bill to end it.

After a Thursday Associated Press article about the exemption ran on many media websites nationally, the Honolulu Police Department issued a statement saying they were not looking for legislative permission for officers to have sex with prostitutes. They contend that House Bill 1926's original provision scrapping an exemption for law enforcement officers was "poorly worded."

"If we were to codify these rules, we would be publicly revealing specific undercover officer guidelines and Hawaii's prostitutes, 'pimps,' and johns would be able to use the information to avoid prosecution and continue their illegal activity," HPD's statement said. 

Advocates, however, warn that the exemption is an invitation for misconduct.

Melissa Farley, executive director of the San Francisco-based group Prostitution Research and Education, said prostitutes commonly complain of being coerced into giving sexual favors to police to keep from getting arrested. 

Honolulu police vice officers who investigate prostitution haven't been accused of sexual wrongdoing in recent memory, according to HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.







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noheawilli wrote:
I am disgusted with HPD's desire to continue this exemption. Why is the law even getting between what two consenting adults enjoy behind closed doors? Let's end slavery and establish free choices.
on March 21,2014 | 01:25PM
droid wrote:
The problem with your logic is that you are trying to have it both ways. Prostitution should either be 100% illegal or 100% legal. It’s not like “medical marijuana” where there is a gray area. Personally, I support 100% legal so the industry can be taxed and regulated like any other business.

But as long as it IS illegal, Honolulu Police should have every tool at their disposal to arrest and charge suspects — including this exemption.
on March 21,2014 | 02:06PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Breaking the law to enforce the law is a recipe for disaster.
on March 21,2014 | 02:28PM
OldEnoughToRemember wrote:
Really, every tool? "[[]§712-1209.1[]] Solicitation of a minor for prostitution. (1) A person eighteen years of age or older commits the offense of solicitation of a minor for prostitution if the person offers or agrees to pay a fee to a minor or to another person who represents that person's self as a minor to engage in sexual conduct. (4) This section shall not apply to any member of a police department, a sheriff, or a law enforcement officer acting in the course and scope of duties.
on March 21,2014 | 02:34PM
Anonymous wrote:
Sounds like they've been using their tools quite a bit.
on March 21,2014 | 04:30PM
pandadaddy wrote:
Besides, how else can a 5ft tall, 350 lb power hungry cop get any nookie. This will spoil their only hope.
on March 21,2014 | 04:35PM
maya wrote:
This exemption made national news, and it made Hawaii and its police department look ridiculous. Let me get this straight- prostitution is illegal, a cop engages in sex with a prostitute- it is legal for the cop to have sex with the prostitute, but illegal for the prostitute. And the HPD thought this behavior was okay? Seriously?
on March 21,2014 | 01:29PM
wahine wrote:
HPD does not need any help making themselves look ridiculous… They do a fine job of that on their own.
on March 21,2014 | 01:53PM
Kingbudd wrote:
Exactly, also I bet several use this exemption so they can "legally" use prostitutes in their own time. All they have to say is they were on duty and friends will just pencil whip the time cards just like they did for the motorcycle cops overtime.
on March 21,2014 | 03:33PM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
I'm sure it helped that Honolulu was the world's laughingstock during the last news cycle for having such an outrageous exemption in the first place. Way to go, Honolulu Police Department!
on March 21,2014 | 01:29PM
awahana wrote:
Is there any other jurisdiction in the nation where this exists?
on March 21,2014 | 04:47PM
maya wrote:
My last comment got removed, so I will just say this to the HPD- Do you know how stupid you looked to the nation? Do you realize that this story made the national news? How can you justify arresting prostitutes for behavior in which you also participated in? HPD- you look like a bunch of idiots. Especially when you tried to keep the exemption. Or do you just get off arresting the prostitute after you have satisfied yourself? Is it as good as the act itself?
on March 21,2014 | 01:37PM
smooshpappy wrote:
"Honolulu police officials told lawmakers the exemption is a valuable crime-fighting tool..." Hey - I got me one 'o them! Need any help?!
on March 21,2014 | 01:44PM
mcc wrote:
What happened to all the comments about the "above the law" police?
on March 21,2014 | 01:47PM
wahine wrote:
What kind of law is this? "WHAM, BAM, you're under arrest ma'am!"
on March 21,2014 | 01:51PM
Shellback wrote:
Why is consensual adult prostitution illegal?
on March 21,2014 | 01:52PM
Grimbold wrote:
Don't call it profession!
on March 21,2014 | 01:56PM
HD36 wrote:
How come they can give it away for free but can't charge?
on March 21,2014 | 04:16PM
st1d wrote:
talk about their cover being blown.
on March 21,2014 | 01:56PM
StifelHNL wrote:
hah! Just take it to court for oral arguments.
on March 21,2014 | 02:17PM
toobn wrote:
HPD needs to change the job description from undercover officer to under the covers officer!
on March 21,2014 | 02:14PM
Iuki wrote:
Good! No wonder so many cops' marriages break up!
on March 21,2014 | 02:15PM
Morimoto wrote:
Of course no law is perfect but I prefer to err on the side of limiting the potential for police abuse. We all know a lot of cops take advantage of their legal powers to their own benefit. Can't stand those who abuse their power. This exemption had to go.
on March 21,2014 | 02:58PM
Tarakian wrote:
As much as I am for supporting our law enforcement community, I would ask HPD to find another way to do their job without this exemption. One group that is not included, the wives and girlfriends of the officers. I'm speculating that overwhelmingly 99% would want this exemption to go away and at least not to worry about one more thing about their spouses faithfulness.
on March 21,2014 | 03:06PM
Larrywm wrote:
Police officers should be allowed to have sex on the job- the same as everyone else.
on March 21,2014 | 03:19PM
jchappel wrote:
Now that this news has gotten out, the exemption no longer makes any sense, as prostitutes will be well aware that having sex with someone no longer ensures that they're not a cop. Would it help to name individuals/heads who pushed the exemption through when it first passed so that this doesn't reflect on the entire HPD? Right now, it's just providing evidence that Honolulu's police officers are totally corrupt.
on March 21,2014 | 03:22PM
Kingbudd wrote:
This exemption is just a sham so HPD can continue to do what they want. Just like them driving when you are on H1 and all you see is cop cars going 10-20mph faster then any other car and talking on cellphones.
on March 21,2014 | 03:38PM
Cantopop wrote:
If a girl has a SHOPO sticker tattoo'd on her rear end, does that exempt her from fines?
on March 21,2014 | 05:28PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Why don't we just legalize prostitution? If you're worried about girls who are forced to do it, can't the authorities use some kind of slavery law? I just think we're wasting a lot of resources chasing this "crime". If two people are willing, let'em go.
on March 21,2014 | 03:56PM
awahana wrote:
Legalization of MM.
Then LP.
Once vice at a time is all that law enforcement can handle.
Lest they lose jobs like HECO loses PV customers, and then HPD goes obsolete too.
on March 21,2014 | 04:44PM
DaMenace168 wrote:
The last sentence of the paragraph says it all... Ms Yu, the reason why there hasn't been any officers accused of sexual wrongdoing is because of THIS exemption... Hard to accuse HPD, if the law already protects them!!!
on March 21,2014 | 04:09PM
BobL wrote:
The exemption sounds like something you would find in state like Louisiana, not in Hawai'i
on March 21,2014 | 04:45PM
st1d wrote:
and while we are at it, exemption police officers from arrest for patronizing prostitutes to further their investigations, let's get rid of that pesky miranda rights warnings that hampers police investigations as well.
on March 21,2014 | 04:53PM
st1d wrote:
first comment went ???

second try: while we legalize police sex with prostitutes, let's also get rid of the miranda rights that also hinder police investigations.


on March 21,2014 | 05:05PM
theload wrote:
Same as, doing drugs to catch a drug dealer
on March 21,2014 | 05:34PM
pizza wrote:
I am amazed at the readerships lack of understanding of what this article is all about. The end result of the abolishment of the exemption is that passively, there will be even more protections for prostitutes and pimps. They most assuredly need more protection right? The readership who are so loquacious in criticism of law enforcement procedures base their opinions upon what? CSI? NCIS? Hawaii Five-O? A plethora of under-cover tv shows or movies? I can only shake my head in disbelief.
on March 21,2014 | 05:40PM
3ocean3000 wrote:
Seriously ridiculous.
on March 21,2014 | 05:43PM
localguy wrote:
The real reason this was passes is lawmakers hated competition from HPD.
on March 21,2014 | 05:46PM
maya wrote:
I just want to know HPD- that having sex with a prostitute who may have been forced into the profession is ok with you?
on March 21,2014 | 05:56PM
honopic wrote:
Wait! Let's think about this. If we take this "perk" away from them, it could be a slippery slope. What's next? No free coffee, donuts or plate lunches? No freedom to drive 50 in a 25? Let it be, let it be. There must be an answer - let it be.
on March 21,2014 | 06:08PM
kolohepalu wrote:
How does every other police department in the country that can't sleep with prostitutes manage to keep control of their problem? We need cops to be able to sleep with hookers or the problem is unmanageable?
on March 21,2014 | 06:16PM
kolohepalu wrote:
Next for HPD: we need to be able to smoke weed to enforce marijuana laws.
on March 21,2014 | 06:17PM
HD36 wrote:
I can see guys telling the girls the're busted, but I'm going to let you off with a warning if you refund the money.
on March 21,2014 | 06:50PM
manuwahi wrote:
The media is totally misinterpreting the exemption and are assuming that officers are allowed to have sex with prostitutes. No one from HPD has said that their officers are allowed to have sex with prostitutes.
on March 21,2014 | 06:55PM
BRock wrote:
Finally an intelligent post!
on March 21,2014 | 07:04PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Because of the exemption, HPD won't stop prostitution. Why should they stop one of their perks?
on March 21,2014 | 06:56PM
Uncleart66 wrote:
Sargent Moe, Larry and Curly reporting.
on March 21,2014 | 07:04PM
Ezdeewilly wrote:
Oh no, I was just about to join the force.
on March 21,2014 | 07:23PM
soundofreason wrote:
And yet MALE pro's can get busted without officers having to engage in THAT activity. How convenient.
on March 21,2014 | 07:28PM
soundofreason wrote:
So the HPD guy, stands up "afterwards" and says "You can either give me my money back or I can now run you in" - What kind of option is that. What option do they have at this point?
on March 21,2014 | 07:30PM
soundofreason wrote:
Gee, all it took for this to be changed, was for our police force to be laughed at nationally by ALL other law enforcement agencies. What a bunch of clowns we have here.
on March 21,2014 | 07:32PM
amela wrote:
Do their wives or girlfriends have to sign some sort of an agreement for this task force? What's the requirements for this job?
on March 21,2014 | 07:59PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
It's just completely outrageous that such an exemption law even exists.
on March 21,2014 | 08:29PM
808Unionist wrote:
Senator Hee: How about looking into Police Disciplinary Actions when your review this rule.
on March 21,2014 | 09:07PM
CloudForest wrote:
What a corrupt and fallen world we live in .......
on March 22,2014 | 12:37AM
808warriorfan wrote:
I didn't realize HPD had a bunch of horny officers who hide behind this stupid exemption. IT HAS TO END. Prostitution should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. I for one am tired of being taxed to the max. Let's be open minded and find other means of generating revenue. This is one "business" that you won't pay taxes if you do not "partake".
on March 22,2014 | 08:01AM
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