30 years of service and counting

Kathy Dina retires from Austintown Police Department, starting new job with schools

AUSTINTOWN — Detective Sgt. Kathy Dina ended a 30-year career with the Austintown Police Department at 3 p.m. May 31. With an hour to go, she sat down and talked about those years and how she made a difference in many lives.

Dina is a 1983 Woodrow Wilson High School graduate. She didn’t pursue a college degree and ended up getting married in 1989. At that time, she had a dream of becoming a police officer.

“I decided to attend the police academy, and at the time I had two sons at home, John, 2, and Joseph, 3,” Dina said. “I was a mom during the day, attended the academy from 6 to 10 p.m., then I did homework into the night.”

She did that for six months, attending the Western Reserve Police Academy in Poland, which no longer exists.

Once Dina graduated in 1992, she applied to the Austintown Police Department and was hired as an auxiliary officer. Auxiliary officers were commissioned police officers at that time. Today, auxiliary is considered a civilian position, and reserve officers are commissioned.

“It is all about the power of arrest,” Austintown police Lt. Tom Collins said.

As an auxiliary officer in the early 1990s, Dina had to give 32 hours per month to the department, which she was glad to do as she started on the road of her dreams.

After two years as an auxiliary, Dina moved into the patrol division. She continued to add to her skill set as time went on.


“In 2000, I was put on the crisis response team as a negotiator,” she said. “There is advanced training I took at the time, but I still feel hands-on is the best training.”

She said her new skill was put to use many times and as she proved her worth, she was moved to the rank of detective in May 2007, and that August, rose to detective sergeant.

“In 2012, I became the team leader in charge of our negotiations unit,” she said. “In the 22 years I have been on that unit, we have only lost one. All the others we talked out. That is pretty good.”

Dina continued to add more to her resume, including becoming a member of the homicide task force and the abduction response team. In 2010, she took over all the juvenile cases for the Austintown Police Department and, three years later, was named school resource officer.

“I was given a full office at Austintown Middle School and had a full office at the APD,” Dina said. “I had two fully functioning offices.”


As she looked back at her 30 years with APD, she recalled the special moments. One was when her son John became an officer with the Warren Police Department. She attended his induction ceremony in her Austintown uniform.

One moment she can’t seem to let go of was a 2010 child homicide. It was the first of many child deaths she has seen in her career.

“It was so bad it never left me,” she said.

She said other cases she remembers did have better endings. She recalled a 4-year-old girl in the Westchester Apartments whose grandmother stabbed her in the chest, through a teddy bear she was holding.

“I was among the first on the scene and witnessed the firemen carrying her to the ambulance. We rarely found out if the child survived in cases like that,” Dina said, “but she came back to the department at age 19 to personally thank us for saving her.”

Dina will now have the rest of the summer to enjoy time with her new granddaughter before starting the next chapter in her life. This fall, Dina said she has a new position to fill.


“Next school year, Austintown schools will hire me as a full-time director of security,” she said. “They are hiring me as a full-time position, but I will still have the summers off.”

Police Chief Bob Gavalier said Dina has worked hard and has proven herself time and again.

“She went into the detective division and started doing juvenile cases and while doing that she became an expert on juvenile law,” Gavalier said. “She not only gave our own officers advice on juvenile cases but was also contacted by other police departments for advice.”

He said Dina worked with the juvenile courts and county courts in sharing her expertise. He said she also did an excellent job with the crisis negotiation team.

“I loved coming to my job and doing what I do,” Dina said. “I think I am a household name to a lot of families, and I have helped a lot of families over the years.”

She added, “I am also the first female (in the APD) to make it through to retire in a man’s world.”


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