Hispanic Heritage Month: History not lost on Suffolk County police's 1st Hispanic chief

SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Newly promoted Suffolk County Police Deputy Chief Milagros Soto is the department's first Hispanic chief and the highest ranking woman in the department, something she takes to heart, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month.

"It's not lost on me," Soto said of the significance of her rank advancement.

Soto, a 33-year veteran of the department, was promoted from inspector and will serve as the Commanding Officer of the Department's Internal Affairs Unit, which investigates possible officer misconduct.

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She'll oversee, as part of Suffolk County's police reform plan, the integration of the county's Human Rights Commission into the Department's Internal Affairs Unit.

"Hopefully, it will bring some confidence into our abilities to conduct fair and impartial investigations," she said.

Soto grew up on the Lower East Side in a large Puerto Rican family. She is the youngest of 11 children.

"I'm the person I am today because of my mother," she said.

Soto said she was inspired to go into law enforcement by her brother Pedro, who was an NYPD officer.

"As a 10 year old, I would see how people in the community really admired him," she said. "Here was the product of the Lower East Side, and to have a Hispanic officer patrolling in our neighborhoods was a big deal."

Pedro was killed in a car accident in 1974 while on his way to work at the 9th Precinct.

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