TAMPA, Fla. — Donna Lusczynski came to Tampa more than three decades ago to become a marine biologist. Instead, life took her in a very different direction.
“Happened to meet some law enforcement officers and became interested in school,” she remembered. “I immediately got hooked and changed my major.”
After she graduated from the University of Tampa, she took a job with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in 1991. She advanced through the ranks and spent time working on street crimes, narcotics, vice, and internal affairs. In 2018, she became Chief Deputy of the department.
After a more than 30-year span, Luczynski said she’s convinced that law enforcement is no longer a “good ole boys club” as more and more female role models take positions in departments like the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m very fortunate to be in my position as chief deputy, but we have female colonels, we have female staff members in every type of position within our office,” she said.
However, Luczynski said the sheriff’s office has more work to do.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, she’ll host a recruiting event seeking out more women who are interested in law enforcement careers.
The event will happen at the Falkenburg Road Jail Assembly Room at 520 N. Falkenburg Rd. in Tampa.
“We’d like females old, young, all types of diversity,” Luczynski said. “We want to make sure our organization reflects the community we serve.”
According to a 2019 report by the National Institute of Justice, across the nation, “the percentage of women in law enforcement has remained relatively stagnant for the past few decades.”
According to the report, women represent less than 13% of total officers “and a much smaller proportion of leadership positions.”
The report concludes that there’s very little verifiable research on how to increase those numbers, improve recruitment efforts, and improve retention and promotion of “exceptional women officers.”
A separate 2016 report, written by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice, found that — across the nation’s sheriffs’ offices — females represented just one out of every seven employees. Also, about one in eight "first-line supervisors" were female.
According to data maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has a better representation of women within its ranks.
According to the FDLE’s Criminal Justice Agency Profile Report 2021, women represent about 21% of the sheriff’s office’s law enforcement staff and 25% of its corrections employees.
Lusczynski, however, said there’s always room for more within the department and profession as a whole.
“We are really committed to it, and we’re really prioritizing it,” she said.