In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is observed throughout the month of May, we are featuring stories of DA employees, what inspired them to pursue a career in public service and their contributions at the DA’s Office.
Meet Deputy District Attorney Melissa Ocampo, who began her career at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office in 2010 as a certified legal intern in the Gang Unit and then became a graduate law clerk in 2011. She officially became a Deputy District Attorney in November 2012. Melissa is currently a Deputy DA in the North County Branch where she prosecutes vertical hate crimes and general felonies. Read more about what inspired Melissa to pursue career in law enforcement at the DA’s Office, below.
What inspired you to choose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office?
“I am a proud San Diego native and have always wanted to dedicate myself to a career serving others in our community. When someone becomes a victim of crime it can be very traumatizing and violating of one’s sense of safety. For some, it can become the darkest hour of their lives. Crime also causes a rippling effect, not only affecting the individual victim but the community as a whole. I chose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office because it allows me to represent the People of a community I love and to be the light for victims in their hour of darkness. San Diego is also a very diverse county with a large Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) presence. As a Filipina American, I strive to be someone the People can trust to be their voice, especially those of AAPI decent who might otherwise be unfamiliar or hesitant to be involved in the criminal prosecution process.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“As a Deputy District Attorney, I get to make a difference in the lives of others daily. From being a staunch advocate for crime victims, to being a fair and ethical prosecutor handling a defendant’s case, I get to do the right thing each and every day and to proudly answer up on behalf of the People.”
What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Month mean to you/why is it important to you?
“Historically, AAPI’s have been lumped together into a singular group – ‘Asians.’ However, AAPI’s are comprised of a diverse group of people across roughly 50 ethnic groups (with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries) with rich histories, cultures, and traditions. AAPI’s deserve to be celebrated, recognized, and promoted for their contributions to this country, then and now. Growing up as a Filipina American of immigrant parents, I have experienced firsthand and been witness to overt and implicit instances of discrimination and bias. AAPI month is important to me because it is a time for all of us to come together to honor AAPI contributions to society, celebrate our diversity, and teach about our histories and culture. In light of the recent rise in anti-AAPI hate crimes and incidents, there is now more than ever a collective need to uplift the AAPI community.”