Cops in Hawaii are fighting to keep what they describe as an important legal protection: Permission to have sex with prostitutes. A state bill cracking down on prostitution originally scrapped an exemption allowing undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes, but it was controversially restored after police testimony, the AP finds. Police won't say how often the exemption is used, but critics argue that it leaves the system wide open to abuse, noting that there have been many cases nationwide of police officers extorting sex from prostitutes.
The chief of Honolulu's vice squad argued the exemption is necessary because prostitutes and pimps are otherwise "going to know exactly how far the undercover officer can and cannot go." A former FBI agent who trained vice squads around the country for 20 years, however, says he doesn't know of any other state or federal law that allows undercover officers to do what the Hawaii law allows. "Isn't one of the biggest questions here just why, exactly, Hawaii needs a exemption like this for their sex sting operations and none of the other law enforcement agencies in other states need one?" asks Rebecca Rose at Jezebel. "They seem to be able to bust prostitutes and pimps in other states just fine without allowing their officers to engage in sexual acts."