LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Police in Michigan would no longer be legally allowed to have sex with prostitutes during undercover investigations under legislation making its way through the Legislature.
Michigan is the last state left in the U.S. that gives police immunity from prosecution in such circumstances after Hawaii made a change in 2014. Republican state Sen. Judy Emmons, who introduced the measure to repeal Michigan's law, said she doesn't believe officers are actually taking advantage of the law, but she wants it off the books now rather than waiting for it to become an issue.
"This is pretty significant when you're the only state left in the country who still makes allowances for undercover police to accommodate sexual intercourse and finally we are to the point where we need to eradicate this law and get rid of it," Emmons said.
She added that from what law enforcement tells her, no officer is trained in how to use or abuse the law.
Bridgette Carr, director of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic, said she found a case in 2003 in Kalamazoo where a police officer engaged in sex with a prostitute while undercover. What the officer did was "wrong but not illegal" because the officer violated state policy but did not break state law, Carr said. She supports Emmons' proposal.
The Senate unanimously approved the legislation Wednesday. It now moves to the House, where a similar bill has been introduced.
Emmons said she hopes to prevent victims of human trafficking from being re-victimized by police.
"At the time they might not consider it that, but as they start to heal, they realize how egregious that would be if that had transpired," Emmons said.