So the County of Maui paid out $484,000 in overtime for Maui police officers last year, The Maui News reported on Mar. 20 (curiously, the story is not posted on their website). That’s nearly half a million bucks in Golden Time. For any manager in the private sector, justifying such expenses would pretty much be impossible. But when you’re Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta, it’s all in a day’s work.
At the Mar. 19 Maui Police Commission hearing, The Maui News reported that Yabuta said the overtime figure was the “most ever” for the department, and was due in part to the recent visit First Lady Michelle Obama paid on Oprah Winfrey, at her humble Kula estate.
Given that Hawaii Reporter‘s Malia Zimmerman reported back in January that an MPD spokesperson told her the Obama visit tab for the department was $54,233.70, that still leaves a huge chunk of the overtime going to pay for other “events.”
“These are events that happen,” Yabuta said, according to The Maui News. “I’m confident that our commanders are supervising the overtime. The nature of our work results in overtime.”
I bet it does, Yabuta. But to be fair, I’d work as much overtime as I could if I was a cop in Hawaii. Who wouldn’t work as hard as he could, given that state law allows them to have sex with prostitutes while working undercover.
You read that right.
Let me repeat: in the State of Hawaii, undercover cops are allowed to actually have sexual intercourse with prostitutes, as long as said intercourse is part of their investigation.
“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,” the Associated Press reported on Mar. 21.
Of course, the cops say that “internal polices” prevent officers from abusing such an exemption. Needless to say, four House members (including Maui’s own Democrat Mele Carroll) trotted out HB 1926, an anti-sex trafficking bill that also included a provision stating that it’s no longer legal for cops in the state to play hide the sausage with hookers as part of their “investigation.” I say “originally,” because after cops howled in protest, legislators pulled the exemption out of the bill.
“Even if the intent of the amendment is merely to limit actual conduct by the officer, we must oppose it,” Captain Jason Kawabata, a Honolulu PD vice cop, wrote to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13. “Codifying the limitations on an officer’s conduct would greatly assist pimps and prostitutes in their efforts to avoid prosecution.”
As you can expect, news that Hawaii cops can legally have intercourse with prostitutes–which, still, is illegal here–while not only on duty but as part of their duty, has spread across the country.
“Unfortunately, the state House has caved to police pressure and passed a new bill that preserves, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, the right of cops to have sex with prostitutes without getting in trouble for it,” Amanda Marcotte wrote in Slate.com. “Let’s hope that the state Senate balks.”
UPDATE: Obviously hurting from the national firestorm of head-shaking that’s fallen on the Honolulu PD, the department released a “response to misleading reports” on the whole exemption thing (click here to read the whole thing). The department understandably denies that its cops have sex with prostitutes, but continues to insist that changing the law will only help the “pimps”–
“The HPD has never asked the legislature to allow officers to engage in sex with prostitutes,” says the statement. “When HB 1926 was originally drafted, it contained language that allowed the law enforcement exemption UNLESS ‘the act’ involved sexual penetration or deviate sexual intercourse. It was poorly worded so the department asked the committee to omit that sentence, or our officers would not have been able to respond to even a verbal offer of sexual intercourse from a suspected prostitute–one of the most common prostitution violations. The request was NOT made to allow officers to engage in sexual penetration. If we were to codify these rules, we would be publicly revealing specific undercover officer guidelines and Hawaii’s prostitutes, ‘pimps,’ and johns would be able to use the information to avoid prosecution and continue their illegal activity.”
Photo of Honolulu PD Mustang: Cesario (JPN)/Wikimedia Commons