Joint Statement on Recent HPD Arrests
News Release from HPD, 05/26/2015
The following letter was sent last week to the Star Advertiser. We wanted to share it directly with the community as well.
In prostitution-related cases, the Honolulu Police Department's ultimate target has always been those who profit from exploiting others. HPD shares this goal with the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office, U.S. Attorney's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. HPD is working with these agencies on a strategy that focuses on pimps, massage parlor owners, others who promote prostitution and those who engage in the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation.
That is why, in the last two years, HPD made 19 arrests for promoting prostitution, more than half of which were for first-degree promoting or sex trafficking. It is important to note that none of these arrests would have been possible without the cooperation of witnesses -- who in these cases happened to be individuals arrested for prostitution.
A Star-Advertiser editorial opining that HPD's latest operation signals a doubling-down on arresting prostitutes while turning a blind eye to pimps and johns is wrong and ignores reality ("Sex bust sends wrong message," Our View, May 9). Everyone wants to put pimps behind bars. But the reality is that there is no way to take down pimps, or sex traffickers operating under the guise of massage parlors, unless a witness is willing to testify to their actions in court.
Pimps have an enormous amount of control over their prostitutes, and it takes a lot to convince the victims to testify. Some in the community have questioned the recent arrests of cosmetology and massage parlor employees, and more information about the cases will come out in court. In the meantime, we wanted the public to know the following:
- Every individual who is arrested is asked if she is a sex-trafficking victim. Those who say yes and who are identified as victims are provided with immediate care, recognized as possible cooperative witnesses, and directed to social services.
- Most officers don't like enforcing prostitution laws, and many feel uncomfortable. But they know they have a job to do, and they know what the rules are. They either observe a violation or not. If there's no violation, the officer walks out without an arrest. If the officer witnesses a violation, whether it's prostitution, sex assault, narcotics, or something else, the officer is required to take appropriate enforcement action.
- Because many prostitutes know that the police need a verbal agreement of sex for money before an arrest can be made, they will routinely do a "cop check." This consists of initiating sexual contact to try to determine if a prospective john is an undercover police officer. Workers do this because they know that the officers are not allowed to initiate sexual contact.
- Businesses are not randomly chosen. Undercover officers are sent to locations and establishments that have already generated public complaints. If illegal activity is occurring, a police operation can temporarily disrupt the businesses and put the owner and workers on notice. It can also be a source of potential witnesses.
Everyone in law enforcement agrees that pimps and others who profit from prostitution and sex trafficking should be stopped. And we recognize that there is no easy solution or quick fix. But it won't prevent us from going after those individuals who exploit others and getting help for those who need it.
Louis Kealoha, Honolulu Police Chief
Keith Kaneshiro, Honolulu Prosecutor
Florence Nakakuni, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii
Paul Delacourt, Special Agent-In-Charge, FBI
Frank Cabaddu, Assistant Special Agent-In-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations