FBI’s Tampa bureau, TPD look to recruit more women with 30x30 initiative

Hundreds of law enforcement agencies are participating in a nationwide initiative, including several agencies in Tampa. More than 200 law enforcement agencies are participating in the years-long 30x30 Initiative.

The initiative is aimed at recruiting and retaining more women in law enforcement. The goal is for participating agencies to have 30% of their force made up by women by 2030.

Among the agencies making the pledge are the FBI Tampa Bureau and the Tampa Police Department.

READ: Bodycam video released: Suspect 'ambushed' Pinellas County deputies, sheriff says

"A lot of females have thought this was something they could never do," Melissa Fair, an FBI special agent and recruiter with the Tampa bureau, said. "Something that wasn’t tangible. Or, ‘Oh I studied finance,’ or ‘I’m a teacher. I couldn’t be an FBI agent.’"

The 30x30 Initiative says right now, 12% of sworn officers in the US are women. It says only 3% of police leadership in the US are women.

"Women do bring a different perspective to law enforcement that has a great deal of value," said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who also served as the city's police chief.

In March, Tampa leaders said 35% of new recruits at the Tampa Police Department are women.

MORE: Florida man accused of running crime ring to steal equipment from Home Depot and sell it online

"Women have a unique way of talking with people, whether it’s a crime victim or the criminal themselves," Tampa’s Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw said. "And it’s not something that can be taught in the academy."

Nationwide, the FBI says 23% of its special agents are women.

"We have special agents who are female who are on the SWAT team, who are bomb techs, who are special agents in charge, assistant directors, legal attaches who work in embassies that represent the FBI in other countries," Fair said.

Fair says the career paths and opportunities stretch far beyond the role of a traditional police officer. She says she has recruited people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

"I send elementary school teachers to Quantico," Fair said. "I send financial managers, collegiate swim coaches. I have a professor at universities who I sent to Quantico."

PREVIOUS: 4 dead in Venice plane crash, police say

She says 25% of special agents in the Tampa bureau are women.

Fair says this initiative helps advance the future landscape of law enforcement, saying women add a unique perspective to the work they do.

"There are a lot of different facets and obligations, responsibilities of a special agent," Fair said. "More so than just the patrol and arrests."

Fair says more than half of the new agent trainees they sent to Quantico for training this year are women.

If you’re interested in opportunities with the FBI Tampa Bureau, you can get more information by emailing tampaapplicants@fbi.gov.