It was a suggestion that might have repulsed her a few days earlier: sex for money.

But as a 15-year-old runaway, she said she didn't have many options. On this day, she also didn't have any money. She'd been walking the streets of Salt Lake City talking with a woman she knew was working as a prostitute, a Salt Lake police report states.A man in a car stopped near her and asked if she was "dating." She knew the man was really asking if he could buy sex from her.

She said no and started to walk away.

But the woman she was with encouraged her to go with him, the report said. The woman had asked the girl to work as a prostitute before, but this time the suggestion didn't sound so bad.

The older woman told her what to do and where to meet her afterward. She even told her to lie to police if they stopped her - lie about her name, lie about her age.

The girl turned and got into the car. She later told police she did it because of the encouragement and her desperate situation.

She had sex with the man, who turned out to be a youth corrections counselor in the Salt Lake area, for $20.

Afterward, the man took her to the parking lot of a grocery store where she met the woman who'd encouraged her to sell sex. She gave the woman the money and the pair went to the home of another man. That's where police caught up with them.

As part of a new way to cut down on prostitution, detectives have been targeting underage prostitutes. Instead of prosecuting them, investigators try to reunite them with their families and use them as witnesses against the adults who lure them into the life of crime.

That's what happened with this 15-year-old girl. She was wanted for failing to appear for a court date in Salt Lake County. Police called her mother and told them where she was, what she'd been doing and offered to talk with the two of them together.

It's the tactic vice detectives have been taking for more than a year. Salt Lake police say it's cut down on the overall incidents of pros-ti-tu-tion.

Salt Lake Police Lt. Phil Kirk said usually by this time of year police have arrested 60 to 100 circuit girls - women who travel from city to city selling sex. So far this year, they've arrested only one cir-cuit girl.

Police target the people the women and girls work for, he said. Last year at this time they'd arrested 46 pimps. This year, they've arrested just four.

In years past, before this change in tactics, police would have averaged 40 to 60 prostitution related arrests. This year, they're averaging 10 to 15, Kirk said.

In this case, which happened about 2 a.m. April 3, two adults were arrested and the 15-year-old involved was booked into the Salt Lake County Juvenile Detention Center.

The Salt Lake District Attorney's office charged the woman involved, a 30-year-old transient, with aggravated exploitation of prostitution, a second degree felony.

The South Central City man, 28, was charged with unlawful intercourse, a 3rd degree felony, and patronizing a prostitute, a class C misdemeanor.

He's been suspended from his job with Observation and Assessment, a facility where juvenile offenders are tested and assessed for youth corrections and the juvenile court. He'd been with the Division of Youth Corrections for about two years and had worked in observation and assessment for the past year.