In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we are highlighting stories from DA employees and what inspired them to pursue a career in public service. Meet the Chief of the DA’s Family Protection Division Melissa Diaz, who has been with the DA’s Office since 2000.
Melissa is a native Angelino – born and raised in Los Angeles. After law school, she worked at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office for several years and then began working at the District Attorney in 2000 where she started in the Family Protection Division.
She is currently the Chief of the Family Protection Division, where she leads the group tasked with prosecuting domestic violence, child physical and sexual abuse, elder abuse, animal abuse, child abduction and internet crimes against children. She works with our law enforcement and community partners on the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of these crimes. She also helps work on systems-based issues, meaning how we can best serve our crime victims and witnesses from the moment they report to the conclusion of their case.
During her spare time, Melissa likes to cook, read, and listen to music. She spends time with her family is also involved in her community. She works on the High School Mock Trial coordinating committee because she is deeply interested in civics and civics education. She has also devoted significant time to non-profit groups dedicated to serving children and families. She was a founding board member of a non-profit foster family agency and she served on the board of The Chicano Federation of San Diego, serving as vice-chair and chair.
What inspired you to choose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office?
“I have always been compelled to public service and service to the community which I attribute my family’s values growing up. I’ve also been interested in protecting our community and those most vulnerable within in our community – children, sexual assault victims, victims of intimate partner violence and communities affected by gang violence.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“It is an honor to help crime victims navigate the court system and navigate them toward needed support services.”
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? Why is it important?
“On both sides of my family, we have a proud, rich and deep connection to history, civil rights and the Chicano movement in Los Angeles. My family took care to share stories, art, culture and history with me and I feel fortunate. For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to talk about Latinx art, culture and history, to appreciate our expansive history in the United States, to consider how our culture has shaped this country even before its inception, and to debate what it means to be Latinx and how we want to define ourselves.”