Honolulu, HI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest city with a population of over 330,000 residents. Prostitution has been a visible and persistent problem in the city for decades, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. Sex trafficking has also become a growing concern in recent years with numerous adult and child sex trafficking cases being reported, including a case in which a girl with learning disabilities was trafficked and raped by her neighbor. Drugs and child sexual abuse materials have also been connected to the local commercial sex market. Organizations such as the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (P.A.S.S.) have debated with state lawmakers about reforming existing trafficking laws. In June 2013, the Governor of Hawaii signed four bills related to human trafficking into law. These include Senate Bill 192, which made solicitation of a minor for prostitution a Class C felony, changed the minimum fine for the offense to $2,000, and extended the statute of limitations from two to six years. The bill also required convicted persons to register as sex offenders and subjects their assets to forfeiture. In March 2014, a controversy emerged over state laws that allowed male police officers to engage in sexual contact with prostituted persons as an investigative method. A focus on arresting buyers instead of prostituted persons would eliminate the need to use such questionable tactics.

The Honolulu Police Department has used a wide range of tactics to respond to sex trafficking and prostitution, including several strategies that target commercial sex buyers. The city began conducting reverse stings as early as 1997. Over time, operations expanded to include web stings and identity disclosure. After arrest, courts may also impose SOAP orders on offenders. This requires sex buyers to stay away from areas of the city known for high levels of prostitution activity. There have also been efforts to deter sex buying through public education, the use of surveillance cameras, and neighborhood patrols. Because of the high volume of tourists involved in Hawaii’s commercial sex trade, the Honolulu Police Department contended that auto seizures and “john schools” could not be implemented effectively since many buyers do not own cars locally or would be out of state for any post-arrest programming.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in Honolulu. For example, in May 2016, a Kapolei High School counselor was accused of soliciting prostitution from one of his former students. The man was indicted for allegedly responding to an online commercial sex ad depicting a runaway and a minor female. At his house, the man asked the victim if she recognized him. He then showed her his school identification badge and told her who he was. The accusations against the teacher did not come to light until after the victim was arrested for prostitution in a separate undercover sting that targeted prostituted persons. Prosecutors said the victim was sent to a juvenile detention center where she disclosed the incident with the teacher to a counselor at the center. The counselor contacted police, who then initiated an investigation into the incident. The man later was terminated from his employment and pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution. In a plea agreement with the prosecutor, the man was ordered to spend 3 months in jail, but was credited with time served, resulting in no jail time being served. He was also placed on probation for five years and required to register as a sex offender, prohibiting him from being in close contact with minors at all times or possessing or viewing pornography. The court additionally ordered the offender to write an apology to the victim and victim’s family.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:

SOAP Orders:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Hawaii
Type City
Population 375571
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