Lawmaker, police come to agreement on prostitution law

A key lawmaker and Honolulu police have come to an agreement about changing Hawaii’s decades-old prostitution law.

Sen. Clayton Hee is trying to change a bill that would end a police exemption. The current law allows officers to have sex with prostitutes for undercover investigations.

Last Friday, HPD didn’t show up to a Senate hearing about the bill. Sen. Hee said their absence was deafening and deferred decision making.

On Tuesday, both sides had a closed-door meeting about the issue and walked out in agreement. Sen. Hee says it’s pretty clear what he and Honolulu Police would like to change about Hawaii’s prostitution law.

“HPD agrees that the sexual penetration language in the law that they are exempt from should no longer be an exemption for police officers,” Sen. Hee told KHON2.

Sen. Hee chairs the senate judiciary and labor committee, which will soon make a decision about any changes.

Maj. Jerry Inouye says HPD has never allowed police officers to have sex with prostitutes and that HPD only wanted to keep “the part that allows an officer to make a verbal agreement for sex for money because that’s the crux for most prostitution investigations.”

Maj. Inouye also addressed the department’s absence at last Friday’s hearing, saying they have to be very careful about what they say publicly about policies when it comes to their undercover investigations. “We felt at that point, if I went to the hearing, I might be subjected to questions about our undercover polices that I might not be able to answer,” he said.

HPD and Sen. Hee also agree about a police exemption they want to remain in the law.

“There are other parts of the exemption that will remain and that includes sexual contact,” Sen. Hee said.

“Some people might think sexual contact might include touching some areas of the body that shouldn’t be touched. What would you say to that?” KHON2 asked.

“We have strict policy,” Maj. Inouye said. “Although we can’t go into what it does and does not allow, the goal is for us to conduct an efficient investigation where we can get a successful prosecution without unduly violating anybody’s personal privacy.”

The senate judiciary committee will meet Friday to make a decision on the bill.

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