Alaska Cops Defend 'Sexual Contact' With Prostitutes

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—It must be tough being a cop in Alaska. After all, it's cold much of the year, sometimes there's only a few hours of daylight during the winter and far too many in summer—and now, the Alaska legislature is thinking about making it illegal for them to have "sexual contact" with suspected prostitutes. Sadly, however, those legislators aren't thinking very hard about it, as both the House and Senate versions are stuck in committee.

But the Anchorage police aren't very happy that the legislature is even considering such a bill, since as far as they're concerned, there are already plenty of laws and regulations that would stop them from doing it—and even those are too much, according to Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case.

"In some 'very, very limited' circumstances, the Anchorage Police Department wants to reserve the right for an undercover officer to have certain forms of sexual contact in the course of an investigation," Case told the legislators, as reported by Alaska Dispatch News' Michelle Theriault Boots.

"It all comes down to touching, he said ... '[In an undercover investigation], they ask one simple question: 'Touch my breast.' OK, I'm out of the car. Done. And the case is over," said Case, offering a hypothetical example of what he thinks might happen if the law passed. "If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest."

Trouble is, that "very, very limited" touching apparently often doesn't stop there. There have been myriad news reports of police receiving blowjobs from, or engaging in intercourse with suspected prostitutes in places like Honolulu and Detroit—until those states ended cops' immunity to prosecution for such acts, but as far as Case is concerned, "This bill kind of assumes that is what's happening. I think the whole premise we're starting from is wrong."

But in 2014, according to Boots, "an Anchorage police detective was massaged for 40 minutes by a woman before he signaled for her to touch him and the woman 'reached under the towel' and touched his genitals before ending the sting with a 'take-down signal.'"

But in a state where human warmth has got to be at a premium, one might question why the frontier state has laws against prostitution in the first place?

"For police officers to go so far as to have sexual contact with people as a means to gather evidence and arrest them and charge them, it's just not necessary," said prostitutes' rights advocate Maxine Doogan, who's currently heading up a lawsuit to repeal California's prostitution laws. "It's state-sponsored sexual assault."

But it's assault that, what with House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 still stuck in committees, can keep on happening during 2017, although the legislation will automatically be reintroduced in 2018.