“Cops Can Legally Have Sex With Prostitutes…Really!”

INTRODUCTION

A cop comes home after a long day at work.  His wife rushes to greet him at the door and enthusiastically asks, “Honey, how was your day?”  He responds, “It was rough, but very productive.  We did another prostitution sting and made over 30 arrests.”  The wife smiles proudly and exclaims, “Way to go baby!  I’m so proud of you.”  He responds, “I need to shower and rest, after all the  sex I had today.”  Shocked and bewildered, the wife says, “Did I just hear you correctly?  You had sex today?”  He fires back with, “I know.  It sucks.  This police work is not what I thought it would be.  Having sex with all these prostitutes so we can make the arrest is very tiring”  Putting aside, for just one moment, what would go on in that marital home after that brief and shocking exchange, I must ask one question, “Can that happen legally?  Can a cop legally have sex with a prostitute, assuming it’s all in the line of duty?”  The answer may surprise you.

 ANALYSIS

In cheesy television cop dramas, law enforcement officers slap handcuffs on the prostitutes as soon as there’s an agreement reached to exchange money for a particular sex act.  Typically, you never see the cop actually receiving the service of the sex worker.  That would be absurd.  Also, what viewer would think that it was realistic?  Surprisingly, one state in this wonderful union of ours legally permits officers to actually have sex with the prostitutes  before arrest.  Here’s a hint, “Book em’ Danno!”  That’s right, police officers from Hawaii are fighting to keep a state law that permits them to have the flexibility to actually have sex with the prostitutes.  They argue that if undercover cops are no longer permitted to engage in sex acts with prostitutes then they would be able to change their tactics and filter out officers.   Further, they maintain that if the law enforcement exemption is deleted, prostitutes would demand that the sex occur before money changes hand.  Cops call that, “cop checking,” the practice by prostitutes of filtering out officers.

The reaction from civil rights groups and victims’ advocates has been extremely strong.  They call law enforcement’s position, “ridiculous.”  They believe that this controversial “investigative tool” is extremely problematic.  They point to states like Georgia, California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington, D.C., states with much higher rates of sex trafficking and prostitution than Hawaii, as examples of states that don’t allow actual penetration to be used by cops during prostitution sting investigations.  In those states, they argue, cops have no problems making viable, successful and lawful arrests.

Just last month, Hawaiian lawmakers in the state House voted to preserve the exemption.  However, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee deferred a vote until later this week.

Another option other than banning the law is a proposed amendment that lawmakers will consider.  It permits officers to touch adult prostitutes, however, they wouldn’t be legally permitted to “sexually penetrate” them.  When it comes to underage prostitutes, officers would not be permitted to touch them.

OPINION

After working in the criminal arena for over two decades, few things shock me any more.  Candidly, hearing that cops were allowed to legally penetrate the prostitutes that they arrest is one of those things that definitely shocks me.  If this was the law in Amsterdam, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.  The fact that it’s on the books in the United States is unbelievable and troubling.

I’ve prosecuted and defended many prostitution cases.  I’ve never heard of cops having challenges making sufficient arrests solely because they couldn’t engage in the physical act.  There’s always been numerous prostitution cases coming in and out of the criminal system solely based on discussion without having to consummate the act they discussed.  In the few instances where some cases may be jeopardized because Toiletta, Falopia and/or Amber need to have sex to “cop check,” then I say, “Let em’ go.”  Nothing is worth having a law on the books like the one they have in Hawaii.

CONCLUSION

I think it’s a matter of time before this law is abolished.  Now that many more have been made aware of it, I think legislators will finally tell cops, “No.  You’ve got to make your arrests without actually having sex with these gals.”  As for the hypothetical cop discussed above who discloses to his wife that he’s been engaged in a day of sex acts all in the name of law enforcement, I say, “Good luck my friend.  You’re going to need it.  Aloha!”