Tustin PD’s Dave Kanoti has been elevating the mood at the agency for 30 years

By Lou Ponsi

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Dave Kanoti possesses an inherent ability to bring a positive vibe everywhere he goes.

And it’s been this way for Kanoti’s 30 years working at the Tustin Police Department.

The passion he brings to his job is a big reason why Kanoti, 53, recently was promoted to the position of field support division manager.

In his new role, Kanoti is in charge of two of the agency’s four civilian units, dispatch and the police services officers.  Both of those two units interact directly and support the officers in the field.

“He’s another person who always brings a smile to my face and brings a smile to everyone’s face in the police department,” said Chief Charlie Celano at the department’s promotion ceremony. “He’s someone that you will not hear anyone say something negative about, and it’s a big part of the reason why I selected him for this position.”

Let’s go back to the 1980s, when a recent community college graduate was looking for a career with some stability and direction, which he wasn’t getting as an assistant music director at a local radio station.

After the station was sold and the new owner fired the entire crew, Kanoti started looking around.

“I was trying to think outside the box,” Kanoti said.

He was perusing a list of job postings at Fountain Valley City Hall when an open position as a police dispatcher got his attention.

Without really knowing what the job entailed, Kanoti went through several months of testing to gauge whether he had the skills.

Tustin Police Field Support Division Manager Dave Kanoti stands outside the city’s police station.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge

He found himself applying for a dispatcher’s job at the Tustin PD, being interviewed by then acting chief Steve Foster, who asked Kanoti to sit in on a dispatchers’ shift and then come back and let him know if he is still interested in the job.

“So I went in,” Kanoti recalls. “It was incredibly busy. The dispatcher barely had time to speak to me. There was so much going on. I was intrigued. I had no idea what she was doing, but if I could that, it looked like the most exciting thing ever.”

The acting chief offered Kanoti the job.

“So kind of by chance, I got into the most incredible career I could have ever dreamed of,” Kanoti said.

As a dispatcher, Kanoti got a rush from being involved in real-time situations as they unfolded.

“When it’s a busy call, and you go through this incredible series of connections with the callers to the officers to bringing in resources … whatever it might be,” Kanoti said, “you get the adrenaline high just like an officer did.  When it was all said and done and it’s a successful operation, you have this incredible feeling of being satisfied.  It never got old.”

Two calls stand from Kanoti’s time as a dispatcher.

One involved a woman in her mid-30s who was attempting suicide and cut her neck.

Officers responded in minutes and saved the woman’s life.

For his actions in getting help to the woman so quickly, Kanoti earned the city’s employee of the year award.

Dave Kanoti, the Field Support Division Manager for the Tustin Police Department, sits at his desk.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge

A second memorable call involved the shooting of a clerk in a convenience store.

“We got help in there fast and saved another life,” he said. “It was engaging and exciting to keep up with the activity and know you were helping.  After the call is over is when the emotions might hit you and there is the realization of how real this job is.”

Kanoti was doing well, and was asked to train new dispatchers.

After a few years in dispatch, a new position opened up in the department, one where he could apply his skills in a whole new way – property and evidence.

“I went from one secured room in dispatch to an even more secure room that nobody can come into,” Kanoti said. “It was a different type of busy. Everybody in the department needs something.”

He recalls a case in which a baby slipped out of a car seat, then suffocated and died.

Kanoti remembers opening the evidence locker the next day and seeing the car seat.

“That hits you,” he said. “You weren’t at the call, you didn’t take the call. Maybe all you know is what you read in a watch commander activity log and here you are the next day being affected by it.”

When Kanoti stepped into his new role, Andrea Albin took over as the property and evidence supervisor.

Albin, who worked under Kanoti for years, said his love for the department and for people is unparalleled.

“Dave gives his heart and soul to this agency,” Albin said. “He has always modeled for me what a great supervisor looks like, and I have big shoes to fill.”

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