Officer Helps Girls Get Off of the Streets and Out of Prostitution

"They need somebody to be their voice," said Officer Kim Hernandez.

San Bernardino Vice Officer Kim Hernandez helps get girls as young as 13 off the streets, out of prostitution and even into college.

Last year she was responsible, in part, for prosecuting more than 50 cases of human trafficking and making hundreds of arrests for prostitution.

"These girls, more than any other victim except for homicide, need our help," Hernandez said.

She regularly patrols G Street in San Bernardino, also known as "The Blade."

"It's called The Blade because this is where the girls walk up and down to find clients, customers or as they call it, 'tricks,'" she said.

Instead of drugs, Hernandez said gangs are now trafficking girls, some as young as nine and ten years old.

"You can only sell a bag of marijuana or bag of meth or gun one time, but a human you can sell over and over," she said.

It may take several arrests and multiple contacts to finally get a girl to come out of the life.

Hernandez said, "Some of my cases, especially with young girls, just started with me putting on a uniform and getting in a car and driving out and watching the girls on the street."

It's her only chance to connect with the girls, she says.

She said, "It's that first contact and treating them like a human and letting them know that there is more for them out there."

One of the two young women arrested by police on a recent stakeout had been beaten by her pimp.

"It's an ongoing thing to try to care for these girls and try and make sure they know there is somebody there for them that will follow through," Hernandez said.

Hernandez was encouraged by their conversation because the woman agreed to accept help from a victim's advocacy group and wants to go back to school for computer technology.

San Bernardino Police Lt. Mike Madden said, "What Kim is doing is she is truly changing lives, she's changing behavior."

Helping these young girls and women requires persistence, but Hernandez is committed to changing lives-- one intervention at a time.

Hernandez said, "They need somebody to be their voice."

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