Blue Island Police Department to swear in its 1st officer who is a DACA recipient

Police chief advocated for city to change its rules, so DACA recipients could apply to be officers

Leah Hope Image
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Blue Island Police Dept. to swear in 1st officer who is DACA recipient
What is DACA? One recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will soon become a Blue Island police officer.

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (WLS) -- A Blue Island woman who came to the U.S. as a child, and was allowed legal status to work through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is taking the oath to serve and protect.

On Tuesday night, she will become a police officer for the south suburb, and she wants to encourage others to follow their dreams, regardless of their citizenship status.

Mitchell Soto-Rodriguez has deep roots in Blue Island.

"Some officers, when I'm riding with them, they are like, 'you say hi to everyone.' Well, I know the community, so they know me. They know who I am," Soto-Rodriguez said.

And Blue Island Police Chief Geoffery Farr agreed.

"She is part of this community. She was part of this community before I was part of this community," Farr said. "It's important to have that relationship with the community, where they feel at ease with sharing, maybe sensitive information."

Farr advocated for the city to change its rules, so DACA recipients could apply to be police officers, even without a Firearm Owners Identification card.

Soto-Rodriguez was the first to make it to the academy for Blue Island.

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Chief Farr said he is seeing other departments open their hiring processes, as recruiting new officers has been increasingly hard.

"I know this is the right thing to do. And when it's the right thing to do, it's not that hard," Farr said. "We didn't give her anything. We allowed her an opportunity, and that's all we did."

Last year, Soto-Rodriguez was a school security guard.

She came to Blue Island from Mexico when she was 8 years old, with her family.

After going through the nine-month training at police academy, and passing all the tests, Soto-Rodriguez will be the first DACA recipient sworn in as a Blue Island police officer Tuesday night.

She said she has heard from other DACA recipients across the country.

"Even if it looks hard or impossible, never give up. One day it will come to you. Keep fighting for it," Soto-Rodriguez said. "If one door closes, keep knocking. Keep knocking. It's going to open."

There are currently two more DACA recipients who have applied to the Blue Island Police Department, waiting to go through the police academy.