Plan to stop cop-prostitute sex sent to governor

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder will consider a bill approved by the Legislature Thursday that would close an exemption in Michigan law allowing undercover law enforcement officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, that would stop cops from having sex with prostitutes, although State Police and Detroit officers do not currently do so, according to the offices. The House previously approved the legislation in June.

Lawmakers have suggested that closing the exemption is an easy and obvious choice when Michigan is the only state in the nation that allows its officers to have sex with prostitutes.

“Whether or not the abuse is widespread is not the point,” Glenn has said. “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.”

The Republican lawmaker introduced the bill in March after a University of Michigan law professor, Bridgette Carr, brought it to his attention.

Carr, who works for UM’s Human Trafficking Clinic, has prodded lawmakers for two years to do something about it because of the potential for law enforcement to abuse sex workers, she said. Because it’s an exemption for officers, it’s not something that is tracked by police agencies so it’s impossible to know whether or how often it occurs.

State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said the department’s officers do not engage in any on-the-job sexual conduct during investigations. She said the department did not record whether the loophole was ever used in the past.

The Detroit Police Department also has said it does not allow officers to sleep with prostitutes.