It's what many are calling the strangest job perk ever: as part of their investigations, Hawaii police officers are allowed by law to have sex with prostitutes before they arrest them.
Prostitution is illegal in Hawaii and at a hearing on Friday, state lawmakers said allowing officers to be exempt only further plays into the issue of human trafficking and abuse. (Via KHON)
SEN CLAYTON HEE: "Police are just going to have to be more creative than relying on special treatment when arresting prostitutes. It's really mind-boggling." (Via KGMB)
Fox News reports the executive director of Prostitution Research and Education, which is based in San Francisco, says police abuse and prostitution go hand in hand.
"... in places without such police protections 'women who have escaped prostitution' commonly report being coerced into giving police sexual favors to keep from being arrested or harassed."
The Honolulu Police Department claims the exemption allows them to crack down on prostitution.
But back in 2012, prostitution arrests made up only a very small percentage of the total arrests by the department: just 0.007 percent. 2012 is the last year in which arrest statistics are made available. (Via Honolulu Police Department)
The FBI published a report on prostitution written by an Anaheim police lieutenant in 2013, which stated officers usually pretend to be customers before making arrests, but "these tactics [only] resulted in misdemeanor filings and a temporary relocations of the activity."
The Washington Post says the Anaheim Police Department found success at looking at prostitution in a different way. Instead of arresting the women, they rescued them from their pimps and put them in touch with victim advocacy groups.
While no Honolulu police officers showed up for the hearing on Friday, the department did release a statement to the media saying there's a reason the exemption was made in the first place.
"If there was no exemption, officers would not be able to respond to a verbal offer from a suspected prostitute..."
A final decision about the exemption will be made March 28th.