Hispanic Heritage Month: Suffolk police inspector Milagros Soto

When she first started, she was one of the only Spanish-speaking officers on the midnight shift in the Suffolk County Police Department. Now three decades later, Milagros Soto is the highest ranking Hispanic female on the force.
Soto grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1960s and '70s – one of 11 children of Puerto Rican parents. She says it was her older brother, Pedro, who inspired her to become a police officer.
“He was just an NYPD officer for a year when he sadly lost his life in a car accident,” Soto told News 12. “I just remember how everyone in the neighborhood looked up to him and admired him for being one of the few Hispanic in the area as a police officer.”
In 1988, at the age of 25, Soto became one of the few Hispanics on the Suffolk County Police Department. Thirty-two years later, there are 245 sworn members with Hispanic heritage – 140 of them are bilingual.
Soto was promoted to inspector in 2019, making her the highest ranking Hispanic female in the department. She feels her most important role over the years was working in Brentwood in 2016. 
“That was at the height of the MS-13 gang violence in the area,” she said.
She says an outreach campaign made the community more comfortable with police and tried to ease the tension in the area created by the violence.
Deputy Chief Robert Waring says Soto was able to reach many people in the community during that time.
News 12 asked Soto what advice she has for young people considering a career in law enforcement:
“These are difficult times, but I believe we will get through it…Being transparent, having collaboration with community members to foster this unified front and improve relations within departments and the communities, that's what's going to make a difference and that's what's really going to help drive down crime.”