Lourdes Nieto

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Having an adventurous spirit works as an invaluable trait for Chicago Police Officer Lourdes Nieto. From joining the Chicago Police Department 13 years ago due to her insatiable need to help others to spearheading human trafficking workshops that are aimed to educate and hopefully eradicate the epidemic, Nieto’s unyielding passion for positively impacting her community shines through her work.

“A friend I went to grammar school with recently reminded me that in the eighth grade I wanted to become a nun,” laughs Nieto, who attended St. Procopius in Pilsen. “However, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to become a nun more than it was finding interest in the work that they would do for the community. It was the volunteer aspect of it. I went on missions trips. I volunteered a lot.” So much so that Nieto fervently thought of joining the Peace Corps after high school, much to her father’s disapproval. “My father is very old-school Mexican [laughs], he wanted for me to continue my education.”

However, the desire to help others never waivered for Nieto and she contemplated applying to the Chicago Police Academy. “You know, I grew up in a time in Pilsen where the relationship between police officer and residents wasn’t the best. So I grew up feeling conflicted,” says Nieto. But Nieto decided change the community’s perception of a Chicago police officer. “Here and there I have had moments with residents, but for the most part I love what I do,” says Nieto. “I love being in the community talking to people. I love the interaction. I love the communication. I love being out on the streets protecting my community. I love educating the community.” Not long after did Nieto begin to develop a human trafficking workshop thanks in large part to her mother. “I would pass out flyers to local business owners and would spend two hours talking with them about what human trafficking is, signs to look for…these business owners had no idea,” says Nieto. “I spoke to my mother about it and she suggested I host seminars to a larger public. I thought it was a great idea and because I had a partnership with Rudy Lozano Library already, I decided to host the seminars there.” Twice a month, Nieto hosts human trafficking workshops at Lozano as well as the Chicago Police Academy in an attempt to combat the issue. “You become efficient when you discover what you are most passionate about and I am passionate about stopping human trafficking,” says Nieto. “There are times when I think I may be putting myself endanger, especially that I have a daughter, but I think about those victims and what they have been through and that makes me continue my efforts.”

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