Retiring Harbin given surprise farewell by Carnegie students

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

“Become a rock star,” “take up skydiving” and “become Kennywood mascot Kenny Kangaroo” were just some of the suggestions Carnegie Elementary students had for retiring police Chief Jeff Harbin at a surprise ceremony on Monday afternoon.

The teachers and students planned the event to thank the retiring chief for all he has done for the school.

“In the past 15 years, Chief Harbin has played an integral role in Carnegie Elementary School,” said Michale Herrmann, district spokesperson. “He will be sorely missed.”

Harbin, 59, a native of Carnegie, will take a leave from his position June 29, with his retirement effective Aug. 9. He and his family are relocating to North Carolina, where they have built a new home.

He graduated from Carlynton High School in 1972 and joined the Carnegie Police Department in 1976.

He was named chief in 1992. He has also served as borough manager since 2011.

The students in kindergarten through sixth grade put together a video of responses to questions such as what Harbin should do with his retirement, what makes a good police chief, the responsibilities of a police chief and what he should do with his grandchildren during his retirement.

The duties of a police chief, the students said, include “keeping everybody working and working together,” “stopping people from doing bad things” and “a lot of paper work.”

Second-graders gave their views on the qualities that make up a good police chief: Bravery, kindness and being on time to everything. The kindergarten students' nominees for the next chief ranged from President Obama and Spiderman to Scooby Doo and Superman.

All agreed, however, that Harbin can't really be replaced.

A longtime fixture in the community, Harbin helped implement the school's Drug Abuse Resistance Program and frequently spoke at school functions. He also takes students to lunch – in his police car – when they are chosen as Student of the Month.

“We just want to thank you for not only keeping our community safe, but also our school,” Carnegie elementary Principal Carla Hudson told Harbin.

The chief also received a plaque of framed photos and good-luck messages from school staff. Kindergarten students presented him with self-illustrated books depicting what the chief should do in his free time.

“I will cherish this video and these presents you've given me,” Harbin said. “This is the best thing to happen to me in a long time.”

Harbin promised students and teachers he would return to visit.

“Home is and always will be Carnegie,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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