McKeesport's police chief will wrap up an almost 26-year career with the department on Feb. 1.
Bryan J. "B.J." Washowich, who has served as chief since 2010, has announced his retirement. His successor has not yet been named.
Washowich, 47, grew up in White Oak, where his father, the late Wayne Washowich, served as a police officer, planning and zoning director, and code enforcement officer.
He was appointed police chief by former Mayor Jim Brewster, now a state senator, following the retirement of former police Chief Joe Pero and interim Chief Alfred Tedesco Sr.
Acknowledging that Washowich "doesn't always like attention," Mayor Michael Cherepko told city council at Wednesday's meeting that he would be "remiss" if he didn't offer a few words on the chief's retirement.
"In these seven years, what you’ve meant to me as chief, I can’t thank you enough," Cherepko told Washowich. "Your words of encouragement and your advice have been appreciated."
A graduate of McKeesport Area High School, Washowich joined the city's force as a part-time patrolman after attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After being hired full-time in 1995, he rose through the ranks, serving as a detective, detective lieutenant and, in 2005, chief of detectives.
Washowich's retirement comes as the McKeesport police department has been collaborating with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office on a project to install networked survelliance cameras at key locations and neighborhoods in the city, to both deter crime and track suspects.
His retirement also comes as the crime rate in McKeesport is trending downward, according to FBI statistics.
"We have had a couple of unfortunate incidents over the past week that the police are dealing with," Cherepko said, "but contrary to what many people may believe, crime is on the decline, overall in the City of McKeesport."
Cherepko joked that Washowich probably wouldn't miss city council meetings "or those middle-of-the-night phone calls," but added that "I have been proud to have you as part of this administration. You truly held the office of chief with the utmost integrity."
The McKeesport police department includes 55 full-time and 10 part-time officers. It is among the few departments in Allegheny County outside of the city of Pittsburgh to have a detective division, including juvenile, narcotics, computer crime and criminal investigative officers.
Jason Togyer is the editor of Tube City Almanac and the volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published January 02, 2019.