Hawaii Vice! Most Liberal State’s Police Want to Be Allowed to Use Prostitutes

You know what I mean by “use,” don’t you?

I have written about police corruption and crime before, but I don’t think this story is so much about the police in general as it is about Hawaii. Last Fall, Frank DeGiacomo wrote in the Huffington Post,

Forget Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, and California. Hawaii is the most liberal state in the U.S.

I think recent lobbying by the Hawaii police prove that must be true.

From Associated Press:

Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, touching off a heated debate.

Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act. Critics, including human trafficking experts and other police, say it’s unnecessary and could further victimize sex workers, many of whom have been forced into the trade.

Police haven’t said how often — or even if — they use the provision. And when they asked legislators to preserve it, they made assurances that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent officers from taking advantage of it.

But expert Derek Marsh says the exemption is “antiquated at best” and that police can easily do without it.

“It doesn’t help your case, and at worst you further traumatize someone. And do you think he or she is going to trust a cop again?” asked Marsh, who trains California police in best practices on human trafficking cases and twice has testified to Congress about the issue.

A Hawaii bill cracking down on prostitution (HB 1926) was originally written to scrap the sex exemption for officers on duty. It was amended to restore that protection after police testimony. The revised proposal passed the state House and will go before a Senate committee Friday.

The best thing you can say about the controversy is that many people both inside and outside of Hawaii knew nothing about the special privilege for cops. I’ll never be able to read or say or hear the term “vice squad” the same way again.

Despite my feelings that this story tells us more about liberal Hawaii than about police in general, there are some weird (and disgusting) parallels. Remember us being assured that the NSA never abused their power because they had “internal controls”? The Hawaiian police use what amounts to the same argument against being included in laws that penalize using prostitutes:

During recent testimony, Honolulu police said the sex exemption protects investigations and should remain in place.

“The procedures and conduct of the undercover officers are regulated by department rules, which by nature have to be confidential,” Honolulu Police Maj. Jerry Inouye told the House Judiciary Committee. “Because if prostitution suspects, pimps and other people are privy to that information, they’re going to know exactly how far the undercover officer can and cannot go.”

So I guess cops do have special rights. I would have never guessed.

But law enforcement outside of Hawaii think it is crazy. The AP report cites Roger Young, “a retired special agent who for more than 20 years worked sex crimes for the FBI from Las Vegas and has trained vice squads around the country.” He thinks the exemption is wrong.

In my opinion, if a man who worked in vice in Las Vegas thinks your law goes too far, it probably goes to far.