Undercover police practice of sex with prostitutes comes under fire

By Brenton Awa
Published On: Mar 20 2014 10:29:00 PM HST
Women on Street
HONOLULU -

Hawaii law currently allows undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes as part of an investigation.   That provision of the law is coming under fire.

"Law of the land right now without that specific exclusion allows police to use sexual penetration," said Kathryn Xian, executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.

The exclusion Xian is referring to was removed from the bill that would have stopped undercover officers from legally being able to have sex with prostitutes during investigations.

Getting that line reinstated in the bill is what supporters hope to do Friday but Honolulu Police say that not being able to have sexual penetration with a suspected prostitute would limit the type of violations its officers could enforce.

"The original H.B. 1926 would have nullified the existing exemption, preventing officers from enforcing prostitution laws," said the Honolulu Police Department in a written statement.

At a House committee meeting in February, HPD further explained why undercover cops need the exemption.

"As it is, we are already subject to 'cop checking' where prostitution subjects do certain acts or attempt to do certain acts to determine whether the person is an undercover officer," said Major Jerry Inouye, Honolulu Police Department Narcotics/Vice.

Xian doesn't believe HPD's claim and says none of the former prostitutes she's helped has ever "cop checked."

"We've had one survivor who was a victim of misconduct and she was in prostitution for seven years and not once did she ever cop check," said Xian.

Bill supporters emphasize how other states manage to prosecute prostitutes at a high rate without letting law enforcement use sexual penetration during their investigations.

"We feel that the reason why this law is on the law books is because of age old, very archaic beliefs about prostitution being a victimless crime and there are no victims in prostitution," said Xian.

The bill has already passed through the House with amendments. It's passed first reading in the Senate and is now headed to a public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the State Capitol.

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