Hawaii law lets police have sex with prostitutes during investigations

Experts say exemption invites abuse

HONOLULU - 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 over the provision.

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

It's not immediately clear how often -- or even if -- Honolulu police have sex with prostitutes, and authorities assure legislators that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent that scenario.

But experts say the exemption invites abuse and police can easily do their jobs without it.

The Hawaii bill that sparked the debate goes before a Senate committee Friday.

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