"... 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 were made available. (ViaHonolulu 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 28.