Police Officers

Officer Biographies

James B. Smith, Chief

Number of Years on the Job: 27
Education/Specialized Training: 

Graduated in 1989 from Monessen Jr./Sr. High School
Attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania – Speech Communication
Attended California University of Pennsylvania – Psychology and Criminal Justice
Certified Municipal Police Officer Education Training Commission (MPOETC) Instructor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
MPOETC State Certified Firearms Instructor.
NRA National Certified Patrol Rifle Instructor.
TOP GUN Certified Patrol Rifle Instructor.
DEA Task Force Officer Federal Certification.
DEA Narcotics Interdiction JET WAY Certification.
DEA Narcotics Interdiction SKY NARC Certification.
Suicide Prevention for Educator.
NFHS Training for and Modeling Behavior.
Baseball Coach for the Monessen School District.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “I want to make a difference in the community that I grew up in.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “I want all of the citizens in the City to feel that they have a very professional, approachable, and trustworthy police department, that can be depended upon to solve problems.”


Captain David Yuhasz

Number of Years on the Job: 20
Education/Specialized Training:
Haz-Mat Awareness Certified
Domestic Violence Training
Chemical Test for Intoxication Training Program
Type “A” Certified Breath Test Operator
On Scene Collision Investigation – Level 1
Domestic Violence Protocol for Law Enforcement
Less Lethal (Bean Bags)
Sobriety Checkpoint
VASCAR (Electronic Speed – Timing Device) – Non-Radar
IS-00200 ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
Basic Child Abuse
Internet Crime Investigation
Basic Computer Skills for Law Enforcement
Cyber-Investigation 201 (BOTS) Basic Online Technical Skills
First Responders and Digital Evidence
Search Warrants and Digital Evidence
Cyber Investigation 101 – Secure Techniques for Onsite Preview
Basic Data Recovery and Acquisition (BDRA)
Interview/Interrogation – Statement Analysis
Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse
Strategies and Tactics for Improving Street Interviews
Questioning Techniques
Body Language
Handling Deception
Interviewing Juveniles
Changes to Sexual Assault Evidence Test Act 27 of 2015 (SAFER)
Naloxone Training for Law Enforcement
Introduction to Previewing
Non-Traffic Equivocal Death Investigators
How Computers Work and Store Data
Gathering Intelligence for Tactical Investigations Through Online Sources
Dark Currency: Investigating the Dark Web and Virtual Currency
Cyber and Financial Crime Conference
Gathering Intelligence for Investigations Through Online Sources
How to Convict a Child Pornographer
Post-Seizure Evidentiary Concerns
Forensic Acquisitions
Financial Investigation Training
Introducing Digital Evidence in Court
Information Security
Mobile Device Data Acquisition
Computer Forensics

Christopher Gray

Number of Years on the Job: 14
Education/Specialized Training: 

BAC Data Master Certified Operator
Drug Identification

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “To help and protect residents that can’t help themselves. To be a voice for the people that need help. Protect persons and property.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Having a community day, which involves activities for the Police and Community.”


Jeffrey A. Smaracheck, Patrolman, DEA TFO

Years of Service: 5+
Years of Experience: 11
From Rostraver Twp., PA
Age: 33

Education: 2006 Graduate of Serra Catholic HS (McKeesport)
2010 Graduate of MPOETC Academy (WCCC Youngwood)

Current Assignments:
General Investigations
Narcotic Investigations
DEA Task Force
Fleet Maintenance

About Me: “I began my law enforcement career in 2010 in Allegheny County, PA two days after graduating the academy. After only three hours into my first shift, I was faced with a double homicide. My second day; a vehicle pursuit that led to the successful arrest of a homicide suspect.

Like many police officers, I started off working countless hours at multiple agencies for little pay. However, despite the personal hurdles that I experienced, I stuck with my calling in life.

I become interested in becoming a police officer during my high school years. After working various jobs in the automotive field after high school, and during a short stint in college, I eventually saved up enough money to put myself through the academy, in 2010.

Throughout my path, I worked for many different types of agencies and communities. Some of these include East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, California University of Pennsylvania Police Department, North Belle Vernon Borough, Bell Acres Borough, and of course, the City of Monessen.

I love my job, as it’s a way for me to give back to my community and our country. Personally, I view law enforcement as the “last line of defense” for all Americans.

I am currently a resident of Rostraver Township, PA where I reside with my wife (Joanna) and our three children.”


Alan Hritz, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 4.5

Education/Specialized Training: One year of College
Act 120, First Aid/CPR, 6 years United States Marine Corps Reserves, Combat Deployment.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “This job is not routine, every shift is different.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Maintain focus on the importance of collaboration and be visible to the Community. Take steps to reduce bias and improve cultural competency.


James Stoken, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 3

Education/Specialized Training: Army Veteran, Served 6 Years as an Infantryman.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “Opportunity to save lives. A Police Officer’s Job is never routine. Help better the community that I serve.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Try to build a relationship with the community, that makes the members of the community trust and respect the police.”


Rebekah Shrader, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 6 Years Part-Time, 2 Years Full Time

Education/Specialized Training: Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science. Act 120, Act 235, Taser Certified, First Aid.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “Pride in Serving the City (Community). Desire to make a meaningful impact. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Help people build trust and respect for the police. Mentor troubled Children and Teens.”


Jenna Haniotakis, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 2

Education/Specialized Training: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Criminology. Master of Arts (M.A) Intelligence and Global Security. Air Force (National Guard) 8 Years.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer:

“Becoming a police officer gave me the opportunity to make a difference in more ways than just one. This job is not a routine job; every single day is different. Personally, I have always enjoyed being able to help people, in any way possible, and choosing to become a police officer has provided me with this opportunity.

On a daily basis, I am given the opportunity to help someone, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. Being able to make a difference in someone’s life is the most rewarding aspect of this job. Furthermore, I am determined to make a difference regarding the relationship between the community and the officers that are sworn to serve the people of the community.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “A personal and professional goal of mine since the first day that I began my career in law enforcement was to have a positive impact on better police and community relations. Police officers are ultimately responsible for the safety of the people within the community in which they serve; most importantly, police officers are responsible for making those same people FEEL safe.

Developing a trustworthy relationship with the community by utilizing positive engagements will help ensure this overall goal. My personal goal includes a relationship with the community that will allow the people to have a voice to be heard. I expect all of my interactions to be conducted with respect and courtesy. Overall, creating productive and positive relationships with the people that I serve, as a sworn Law Enforcement Officer, will create a collaborative effort to promote trust and develop a safe environment for all.”


Brandon Heinzelman, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 2

Education/Specialized Training: High School, United States Army, California University of Pennsylvania.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “I became a police officer because I have a passion for helping those that seek assistance in a time of need. I believe that I have a combination of communication and conflict-resolution skill sets to assist when needed. I would like to be a part of a positive change in this community.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “My goal for Police/Community relations is to have a meaningful impact on citizens of this City. I would like to have a trusting relationship with the citizens, so they always have confidence in my work. In addition, I would like for the youth to know they always have someone to depend on.”


Zachery Powell, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 3

Education/Specialized Training: Bachelor’s Degree in International and Homeland Security, Act 120, First Aid.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “Police work is a job that doesn’t require you to sit behind a desk 8 hours a day. It motivates you to do something greater than yourself and build a positive environment in the City. While helping out the community, you can ensure that a person who has been wronged is being heard. A responsible police officer considers it their duty to safeguard citizens’ rights and provide a sense of security when needed.

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Good police/community relations are imperative for developing trust between police and citizens.


Justin Woodard, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 2

Education/Specialized Training: Act 120, Standard Field Sobriety Testing Certification (SFST), Proper Investigative Procedures, First Aid.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “I want to help restore the relationship between the police and the Community. I have always viewed the police as people who want to help others, which is extremely important to me. As an officer, I plan to make an effort to rebuild this important relationship. I think that with a more positive police presence, we can gain people’s trust again and help them live better lives.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Incorporate necessary accountability and transparency between the police and the community. Create opportunities for educational exchanges between the police and community.”


Charles Kozar, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 27

Education/Specialized Training: Cal 4 Class on 1994, Taster, OC Spray, EVOC, Firefighter 1 Certification, CPR, First Aid, AED Training.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “To serve and make my community safe for all residents where I live.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “To interact with making police department and community work well together, to make Monessen a better place.”


Michael L. Hummel, Patrolman

Number of Years on the Job: 5 Years in Monessen, and Certified HR218 Retired Law Enforcement Officer, DOD.

Education/Specialized Training: AS, BS, MPP, MPA, and Ph.D., National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, MPOETC Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, Police Academy Firearms Instructor, Advanced Firearms Training and Certification in Tactical Carbine and Tactical Pistol.

Reason for becoming a Police Officer: “Service to Community and Society.”

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “Building trust and personal connections to the Citizens of the Community.”


Deneen Pesi, Administrative Assistant/Secretary

Number of Years on the Job: 28

Education/Specialized Training: 1982 Graduate, Monessen High School; 1983 Graduate of ICM School of Business, Pittsburgh. Hands-on training with police reporting system and dispatching. Learning different aspects of police work from a civilian standpoint.

Goals for Police/Community Relations: “For everyone to work together for a better community.”

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