A new law will no longer allow Michigan police to legally have sex with prostitutes during undercover operations.
The legislation is nearing Gov. Rick Snyder's desk after being unanimously approved by the Michigan Senate on Nov. 30, WZZM reported. The Michigan House is expected to approve a similar bill.
“This is as succinctly written as anyone could make it. It eliminates the opportunity for those in undercover law enforcement to engage in sexual intercourse with someone they’re investigating,” state Sen. Judy Emmons told the Detroit Free Press. “We have the dubious distinction of being the last state in the nation to have this law in our books.”
Emmons said she does not believe police were taking advantage of previous legislation, and added that "they're certainly not trained in it." Still, the senator said it was time for a change in the law, especially with the Michigan Legislature's ongoing effort to fight human trafficking in the state.
According to University of Michigan law professor Bridgette Carr, Michigan was the last state in the country to provide immunity from prosecution to undercover officers who have sexual relations with prostitutes during an investigation.
But now Emmons' bill will change that.
"As a former sheriff, no modern-day police department would ever allow this," said state Sen. Rick Jones. "This makes so much sense.”
Prior to Michigan, Hawaii was the last state to change legislation regarding undercover officers having sex with prostitutes. Hawaii made the change to its legislation in 2014, according to WNDU.
"So I guess they thought there was a need," Emmons explained. "But how do you debate this? I don't know how anyone could come out and argue against this."
Carr said she had been trying for years to have the exemption removed. She said it wasn't until she enlisted the help of state Rep. Gary Glenn, who helped with the bill's passage in the Michigan House, that she was able to finally find success.
“Whether or not the abuse is widespread is not the point,” Rep. Glenn said upon introducing the bill in March. “We don’t want Michigan known as the only state in which law enforcement officers can legally pressure human trafficking victims into having sex without fear of prosecution.”
Local and state police downplayed the effect of the law.
"This behavior is prohibited by MSP policy already so the new law has no effect on us. It’s not an investigative tactic we were using," a police public affairs manager told WNDU.