For almost 21 years Debbie Vijil patrolled the streets of eastern and southern Hillsborough County as a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy. As of Monday she began sitting behind the desk at 948 Cherry Hills Drive as SCC's new community service officer.
Although Vijil has some big shoes to fill in replacing longtime CSO Donna Budd, she's certainly up for the challenge.
"I'm a people person and I enjoy working with seniors," she said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of this community."
Her superiors think she's a perfect fit.
"Debbie worked for me as a deputy and did an excellent job," said Major Ron Hartley, commander of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office District 4. "I foresee she'll also do an excellent job in Sun City, as well. As a former street deputy she brings a whole new level of experience to the job."
"She'll be a great asset," said Capt. Steve Launikitis, in agreement. "She's familiar with the area, has investigative experience and thoroughly knows the law. I think she'll slide right in with very little training."
Originally from New York City, Vijil moved with her family to Plant City in 1973 and graduated from Plant City High School four years later. She married and raised her four children - three sons and a daughter - as a stay-at-home mom until 1991, when they were all in school.
That year she applied to the sheriff's office and became a street deputy.
In February 2012 she chose a different career path and began serving as a community service officer at the Falkenburg Jail, where she oversaw the lobby and dealt with attorneys and other professional visitors.
When she recently learned a position in Sun City Center was open, she applied.
Her duties will include handling citizen complaints; helping residents file incident reports and following up on them; answering phones and assisting Community Resource Deputy Jason Castillo. She will be handling fraud and identity theft cases, which are prevalent in Sun City Center, and those involving stolen property, criminal mischief and petit theft.
"I'm very happy she made the choice to come here and bring her knowledge and expertise to the community," Castillo said. "She has a great personality, and I think she'll be warmly received."
In her spare time Vijil enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren and reading true crime novels.
"I enjoy being part of law enforcement," she said. "I like being able to get to know people and help them solve their problems."
Vijil's office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To reach her, call (813) 672-7817.