Inspiring Latina: Police Officer, Philanthropist & Entrepreneur Lourdes Nieto

How does your work to fight human trafficking influence your job with the Chicago PD? 

In the Chicago Police Department, our training in this matter is non-existent. I do get a lot of officers who know about what I do on-and-off the job, and they come and ask me about it. They say, "I think I might've come acorss something, but I'm not sure. I don't know this. I don't know that." I take it upon myself to say -- look, if you need help, let me know. I'll come and talk to you. I'll give you information that you need to figure out the signs. A lot of the times, calls will come in: domestic incident, battery, etc. It easily could've been a human trafficking incident. 

I partnered with an organization called Traffick Free. We're just trying to bring awareness to the city. I've taken it a little more personally. I grew up in Pilsen. So, I conduct informal forums to educate the community. I walked business-to-business, asking if I could post PSAs about the issue. In just speaking with the community -- they're so shocked! They couldn't believe this was going on in Chicago -- in our high schools and to our girls. It saddened me. Unless we have awareness, we can't educate. 

How do you manage your volunteer work, your career as a police officer, and your life as a single mom? 

It's time management! I'm very blessed. My daughter is 14-year-old, and she's very independent. She's very self-sufficient. I see some moms, and I realize that I wouldn't be able to do half the stuff I can now if I had little ones.

I also have a great support system. My mom is always willing to give me a helping hand. She rolls out with me. I never lack the support. 

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About this author

Cristina Arreola, Editorial Assistant

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina Mari Arreola earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to BrooklynNew York. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking...), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or baking her favorite sweets. You can follow her on Twitter at @c_arreola

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