Women’s History Month: Detective Cindy Pettinato

This year, for Women’s History Month, we’re honoring our staff members and female MDT Partners who are truly making a difference in their field.

Please meet Detective Cindy Pettinato!


My dad was a Police Officer for 40 years, so I grew up hearing police stories.  I was always extremely nosy and wanted to hear more. I started working in a District Court as a civil clerk, then worked at Upper Moreland Police as a dispatcher for 7 years.  I moved on to Abington as a 911 operator for the next 5 years, because now I would get to really hear more!

I switched from 911 operator to Police Officer in 1997.  I was in Patrol for 14 years before applying for a Detective position.  I loved being out on Patrol because it was something new every day.  When I became pregnant, I got assigned to “light duty” inside the station.  The juvenile detective division was shorthanded at the time, and I asked if I could try to help out in that position.  I soon learned that I had a lot more to learn!  An alleged sexual assault case was assigned to me, and I was c-l-u-e-l-e-s-s about how to proceed.  I reached out to Detective Kathy Hart with the Montgomery County Detectives for help.  This was actually pre-Mission Kids days.  I sat in awe watching Kathy interview a 4 year old child.  Kathy helped me with the process of the case, and I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to do moving forward.

There were 3 positions open for Detectives when I applied, 2 “regular” detectives and one juvenile detective position.  I specifically asked for the juvenile position because I wanted to work on the child abuse and sexual abuse of children cases after watching Kathy.  I went to as much specialized training as the Department authorized over the next few years. During that time, Mission Kids was formed and became an integral part of my investigations.

My position changed title a few years ago to Special Victims Unit after I brought it to the attention of the Administration about how specialized my unit was. It wasn’t just dealing with “bad kids” anymore….it was dealing with victims of crime, crimes committed against children.  Something important that I learned when dealing with sexual and physical abuse of children is LISTENING. I think I provide healing because listening is often the only thing needed to help someone start healing. The victims need someone to listen to them and believe them.  I spend a great deal of time listening, showing compassion, providing feedback and informing victims of the process. I often jokingly tell victims that my therapy sessions are free, even though I am not a therapist.   I promote hope to victims by telling them they are not alone, and how proud I am of them that they found their voice and were able to finally tell their story.  I let them know that I will be with them every step of the process and encourage them to reach out to me if they have any questions or worries along the way.  

I love that there are more women entering the Law Enforcement field. Women offer different perspectives then men. We are more empathetic, tolerant and compassionate.  I hope to see many more women enter the field in the future.