Honolulu Police Department Responds to Allegations About Officers Engaging in Sex with Prostitutes

Recent news reports claimed that the Honolulu Police Department urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to engage in sex with prostitutes. This statement is misleading and inaccurate.

Prostitutes

First and foremost, the HPD asked the legislature to keep the existing language in the exception. The HPD did not ask for permission to engage in sexual conduct with prostitutes.

Under Hawaii law (HRS Section 712-1200), merely agreeing to pay a fee for sexual conduct constitutes a violation of the statute thus, the exemption for police officers is necessary so they can conduct prostitution investigations. If there was no exemption, officers would not be able to respond to a verbal offer from a suspected prostitute. This does not mean that officers are allowed to engage in sexual penetration.

The HPD has never asked the legislature to allow officers to engage in sex with prostitutes. When HB 1926 was originally drafted, it contained language that allowed the law enforcement exemption UNLESS “the act” involved sexual penetration or deviate sexual intercourse. It was poorly worded so the department asked the committee to omit that sentence, or our officers would not have been able to respond to even a verbal offer of sexual intercourse from a suspected prostitute – one of the most common prostitution violations. The request was NOT made to allow officers to engage in sexual penetration. 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.

The department is keenly aware that prostitutes are often victims of human trafficking or other offenses. Because of this, we work closely with the Hawaii Coalition Against Human Trafficking and other community groups. Our goal is to conduct fair, accurate investigations, taking into consideration the need for prosecution as well as the need to protect the innocent. To accomplish this, we maintain careful oversight of all prostitution cases. There are strict written guidelines to regulate the conduct of officers conducting prostitution investigations.

Sex Trafficking in Hawaii – On the Streets and Behind the Headlines

The other day I posted a video that Malia Zimmerman of the Hawaii Reporter posted entitled “Jana’s Story: Life as an Underage Sex Trafficking Victim in Honolulu”.

KHON2 News just reported on Emergency responders train to help sex trafficking victims.

…”Well I know they learned of the magnitude of the problem. And I think that is the most valuable thing that’s heart wrenching to hear how widespread this problem is in Hawaii,” said Yamamoto.

“Prostitution is inherently detrimental to women and children. Okay there is no legislating it. There is no regulating it, you can’t fix it, it’s just the way it is,” said Xian.

But you can fight it, with lots of soldiers on the street knowing what to look for.

Tonight I will post Matt Levi’s special on “Sex Trafficking in Hawaii” that was just posted a few months ago:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/-5qlKdlIZ1w]

Matt Levi looks into the world of sex trafficking in Hawaii. We meet a former victim and speak with experts in the field.

Hawaii Reporter on “Jana’s Story: Life as an Underage Sex Trafficking Victim in Honolulu”

Sex trafficking in Hawaii is a horrible thing and now Malia Zimmerman over at the Hawaii Reporter has started a new series that may open some eyes on UNDERAGE Sex Trafficking going on in Hawaii (She’s definitely more brave then me!):

A girl scurries out of camera view

Underage sex trafficking victim exposes the reality of prostitution and drug abuse in Honolulu’s “Relaxation Spas”.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/lmE8I0GwMEA]

Prostitution Bill Aimed at the Johns Signed Into Law

Media Release:

HB44, a bill that makes it a misdemeanor to offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of sexual conduct within 750 feet of a school or public park, was signed into law on June 1, 2011 by Governor Abercrombie. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Karl Rhoads (District 28 – Downtown, Chinatown) is now Act 74 and takes effect on July 1, 2011.

“Children and their parents, going to and from school or the park, should not be exposed to a gauntlet of prostitutes, pimps and johns,” said Rep. Rhoads. “HB 44 raises the penalty for johns, and subsequently helps to clear out prostitution in areas where children must travel. The Governor’s signing of this bill is a strong message that the public has a right to use public thoroughfares without being intimidated by illegal activity.”

Legislature Passes Bills to Help Crack Down on Prostitution

Media Release:

The Hawaii State Legislature passed two significant bills in the 2011 session related to prostitution crimes.  If the bills become law, both will be in effect when the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference convenes in Honolulu in November 2011, at which time government, tourism, and law enforcement officials expect a surge in prostitution activity and sex trafficking; security will be heightened.

Rep. Karl Rhoads

Rep. Karl Rhoads

HB44, introduced by Rep. Karl Rhoads, makes it a misdemeanor to offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of sexual conduct within 750 feet of a school or public park.  If enacted, the law takes effect on July 1, 2011.

HB240 makes various amendments to the prostitution offenses currently on the books.  The bill amends section 28-101 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes authorizing the attorney general to include prostitution cases as one of those considered “greatest priority” when determining the funding for and the provision of witness security and protection.  It increases the offense of promoting prostitution in the first and second degree to a class A and B felony respectively.  It expands the offense of prostitution and solicitation of prostitution to cover patrons.   The measure makes the offense of habitual prostitution a class C felony, and applies the law and raises the penalty for those who habitually patronize prostitutes.  The current law sunsets on June 30, 2012.  If enacted, the new law takes effect on July 1, 2011 and makes the law permanent.

“Together, HB 44 and HB 240 raise the stakes for pimps, sex traffickers and customers of prostitutes while adding protections for the prostitutes themselves who wish to testify against those who coerced them into the sex trade,” said Rep. Rhoads.   “HB 44 raises the penalty for johns soliciting prostitutes close to schools and parks.  Our keiki should not have to run a gauntlet of pimps and johns when they go to school or to the park.”

The bills provide law enforcement with stronger laws behind them to fight prostitution.