SHAKOPEE, Minn. – For the first time, a Minnesota police officer is being recognized nationally for the way she represents the Latino community.
The National Latino Peace Officers Association gave its top award to Shakopee Officer Yesenia Soto, naming her NLPOA Officer of the Year.
Officer Soto is living her dream.
“I wanted to be a police officer since I remember, since I was a little kid. Helping people was what made me became a police officer,” Soto said.
She’s been a trailblazer in Minnesota. She says she was the first Latino detention deputy in Hennepin County; the first Latino officer with Metro Transit; and now the first with Shakopee.
“It means a lot, especially when I have the opportunity to show them that we have somebody that reflect them, like in my case I’m a Latina police officer,” Soto said.
She says it matters when she interacts with another native Spanish speaker. Born in Los Angeles, her parents moved the family to Mexico when she was 2. She moved to Austin, Minnesota for high school, learning her second language, English, at 16.
“‘Usted habla español,’ ‘You speak Spanish,’ and that changes the interaction between a police officer and somebody who’s getting pulled over,” Soto said.
She’s held volunteer positions with the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and the Minnesota Chapter. And she plans events for underserved communities.
“I love to help. I love to mentor. I love to help people. I like to be part of a community. I like to make a change and a difference,” Soto said.
And it’s the whole of all of that that earned her the National Latino Peace Officers Association Officer of the Year Award.
“It means a lot just to be here every single day helping the members and the community members,” Soto said.
Two Minnesotans received recognition this year. NLPOA named a St. Paul Police Commander Latina of the Year. Cmdr. Pamela Barragan is with St. Paul Police.
Source: CBS Minnesota