When I began my career in 1984 at the Odessa Police Department, I had no idea that criminal justice would be more than a job – it would become my passion. I am Investigative Specialist Melanie Cleveland with the University of Texas at Dallas. After over 8 years in Odessa, I knew that law enforcement was what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I soaked up everything I could. (When my job was slow, I read the Texas Penal Code!) After leaving Odessa, I served with the Randall County Sheriff’s office in the Texas panhandle, which led to an investigative position with the Randall County District Attorney’s office. There I assisted in a capital murder case, among others, learning a great deal about investigating cases as they progressed through the court system. My experience in investigations continued as I served in the United States Secret Service as an Investigative Assistant in the Dallas Field Office Counterfeit Squad, promoting to Senior Investigative Assistant before returning to Amarillo to rejoin my husband, a career firefighter and paramedic, who had remained in the panhandle.
I later joined the Amarillo Police Department where I soon promoted to investigator, a non-sworn position in the Juvenile Division. In this position, I investigated all runaway cases. With sometimes over 100 new cases per month, I quickly gained experience in this rewarding, and often very challenging, assignment.
Continually blessed in my life, God led me to UT Dallas where I serve in the Criminal Investigation Division. I enjoy the search for suspects who target our campus, students, staff and faculty. In my time with UT, I have successfully developed numerous cases, recently identifying and locating a wanted felon; several individuals involved in continuous theft offenses; and have located stolen property. In addition to my investigative caseload and case review, I also serve in the property room as a technician. During my career, I have attended numerous training courses and seminars, including those focused on investigation, and recently attended a week of evidence-related training. I am proud to have received an Associate’s degree in 2001 and a Bachelor degree in 2014, with a 4.0 GPA - while working full-time and raising a family. With diligence, dedication, and prayer, anything is possible.
My husband of 40 years, my two children (one of whom is a police sergeant) and their families, complete my personal life.
With over 17 years of law enforcement experience – federal, county, municipal, and now with the UT system - I have sometimes seen a divide between sworn and non-sworn staff. Non-sworn staff members do not usually stand arm-in-arm with officers on the front lines, but rest assured that they always stand strong behind them. All on the same team, in different positions, but working together toward the same goal. We all work diligently to make the world a better place for those we serve.
Thank you for choosing me for this tremendous honor. I am humbled and proud to serve the UT system at the Dallas campus.