As of this week, it is illegal for police in Kansas to have sexual relations with people they’ve detained in a traffic stop, or are otherwise holding in custody. It’s the kind of law one might think wouldn’t be need to be passed.
The legislation was signed into law on Thursday by the state’s Republican governor Jeff Colyer. According to the Kansas City Star, the new law makes it a crime for a police officer to have sex with a detained person “during the course of a traffic stop, a custodial interrogation, an interview in connection with an investigation, or while the law enforcement officer has such person detained.”
Kansas actually needed a law spelling out that cops can’t have sex with the people they pull over for traffic violations?https://t.co/JVvIXrhFRB
— Colleen Nelson (@ColleenMNelson) May 11, 2018
As it turns out, laws forbidding sexual contact between law enforcement and the people they have detained are far from the norm across the United States.
The Kansas City Star reported that until the measure was signed into law there, Kansas was one of 33 states where consensual sex between police and individuals in their custody was not forbidden.
The legislation was introduced by state Representative Cindy Hoslcher, (D-Olathe). She told the newspaper that she was moved to introduce the measure following a notorious case in which a Kansas City police officer preyed upon black women, arresting them and then threatening to throw them in jail unless they agreed to have have sex.
The previous law prohibited “sexual relations between police and persons in jail, but didn’t say anything about if they had been stopped on the streets or were in their custody,” Holscher said. “This helps that person who was detained in their neighborhood or stopped for a ticket, that type of thing,” she said.
A similar measure to the one signed into law in Kansas was approved in New York state earlier this year, CBS News reported.
It should be clear across the state for officers from every department, that when someone is in custody, they do not have the ability to consent to sexual activity,” Democratic state senator Diane Savino told CBS.
As ThinkProgress reported this week, there are countless incidents in which police officers target arrestees for sex, preying especially frequently upon people who are disenfranchised, low-income, vulnerable, and socially isolated. That piece cites the Buffalo News in November 2015, which published a massive expose detailing the scope of police sexual across the United States.