Hawaii lawmakers move to close police sex loophole

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Mar 28 2014 11:53:00 AM HST

Police are not fighting a new law that makes intercourse off-limits during investigation.

HONOLULU -

A state legislative committee has approved a bill that would end an unusual provision in Hawaii law that permits police to have sex with prostitutes.

Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's report.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a larger bill on Friday that cracks down on prostitution after amending it to include the provision involving police conduct.

Honolulu police have tried to maintain the exemption allowing sex as a way to keep secret the methods of undercover officers.

"Common sense has prevailed I think logic has become the new norm if you will," said Hawaii State Senator Clayton Hee. "This has been on the books since the early 70s, since the model law was codified and we see this played out on the streets when assisting our victims."

Lawmakers were assured that officers do not abuse that protection. The bill previously passed the House with the exemption intact.

State senators last week announced their intention to remove it.

Catherine Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says the organization has been trying to get the law changed for years and its very happy its finally going down that path.

"I think the global publicity that Hawaii has gotten regards to this archaic and abusive law allowing police to sleep with prostitutes has really embarrassed the state," said Xian.

Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee chairman Clayton Hee said Friday that police will still be allowed to negotiate and agree to have sex during investigations.

"The police I believe in retrospect wanted to be sure that they understood that this conduct is unbecoming and should not be allowed," said Hee.

The HPD has maintained the goal is not to allow sex with prostitutes, it is to protect officers in undercover stings.

HPD says it "agrees with the amendment. It will not change the way the department conducts its operations."

"I think this is a positive step to the right direction," said Xian. "A historical step that we needed to take."

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