As one of UCLA Police Department’s newest members, Melody Mendoza is fulfilling a lifelong dream in becoming a police officer.
Growing up near San Diego, Officer Mendoza knew that she wanted to be an officer at age 14 when she joined the National City Police Department's Explorer program. To pursue that passion while a student at UC Irvine, she served as a Community Service Officer for two years and then as a Public Safety Ambassador at the UCI Medical Center.
As she was exploring her career options, one of her mentors at UCI, a retired sergeant, told her that UCLA PD had the best field training program. And through her own research, she learned that police officers are more satisfied with their jobs in a university environment. That led her to where she is today.
“I feel like I’ve been accomplishing my dream every day,” says Officer Mendoza. “I’ve been blessed with this opportunity.”
But her journey to becoming a police officer was hindered by a tragic incident while she was attending the LA County sheriff’s academy. In November 2022, while her class was on a training run, a wrong-way driver plowed into the group, striking 25 recruits. While Officer Mendoza was not injured, she had to render aid to those who were.
“Everything that we learned during our first week, that’s what we applied when the incident happened,” she says. “It really put things into perspective as to whether or not I truly wanted and felt capable enough to become a police officer to help others.”
Using that experience to strengthen her resolve, Officer Mendoza is looking forward to how she can contribute to UCPD. She would like to join the department’s defense tactics staff in the next couple of years, as she enjoyed the sparring and jiu jitsu-based training she received at the sheriff’s academy. Officer Mendoza also wants to become a lead officer with a specific beat, allowing her to develop relationships with the community.
She looks forward to working with her colleagues as well, knowing that they will be there to support her as a new officer.
“It’s not just an individual job, it’s a team-oriented position,” says Officer Mendoza. “You can always rely on your partners to help you out if you don’t know the answer.”