HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu police are urging lawmakers to preserve an exemption in Hawaii law that lets undercover officers have sex with prostitutes during investigations. But they won't say how often — or even if — they use the provision.
The notion has shocked advocates and law enforcement experts on the sex trade.
"I don't know of any state or federal law that allows any law enforcement officer undercover to ... do what this law is allowing," said Roger Young, a retired FBI agent who worked sex crimes out of Las Vegas for more than 20 years and has trained vice squads around the country. "Once we agree on the price and the sex act, that's all that you need. That breaks the law."
Honolulu police say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act. Otherwise, they argue, prostitutes will insist on sex to identify undercover officers.
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 the legislation was amended to restore that protection after police objected. The revised proposal passed the House and is now before the Senate.
Selling sex would remain a petty misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The Honolulu police vice officers who investigate prostitution haven't been accused of sexual wrongdoing in recent memory, spokeswoman Michelle Yu said in an email.
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