Dual-role Harbin officially calls it a career as Carnegie chief
Jeff Harbin's office is a shell of what it used to be. The furniture has been moved. The walls have been painted. Stacks of files and folders that once littered the floor have been packed into moving boxes, along with the plaques and certificates that lined the walls.
It's his former office, really.
“When you're a young police officer, the older officers say how time goes by quickly,” Harbin said. “But you don't really believe it until it goes quickly for you. You don't realize it until it's here.”
Harbin, 59, a member of the Carnegie Police force since 1976 and chief since 1992, will serve his last working day Friday. His retirement takes effect Aug. 9. Harbin said he knew the time had come.
“Another chief once told me, ‘You'll know when it's time,'” Harbin said. “I can't tell you what day it was. I can't tell you why. One day, I just knew.”
He said he's ready.
“I'm extremely excited for retirement,” he said.
Harbin has spent the last two years as both police chief and borough manager.
“It's been double duty,” he said. “It has been one of the most challenging times of my career, and it did take a toll on me.”
He's not sure he would choose to do it again, he said, but he is glad he did it.
While he will miss many things about the job, he said, he's is looking forward to checking more things off his bucket list.
He wants to learn to speak German. He wants to learn to play the piano. And he wants to do more volunteer work.
Most of all, he wants to spend time with his grandchildren.
“The demands of a the job of chief of police are many,” he said. “I've missed a lot of activities with my kids growing up — birthdays, anniversaries, baseball games. I want to make up for it with my grandkids.”
The legacy he wants to leave behind is a simple one, one that he said comes from his late father.
“He told me, ‘Always give back more than you take out,'” he said. “Carnegie has given me the ability to make a great living and raise a successful family. I hope that I will be remembered by the fact that I have back more than I took out.
“I hope that I made more good decisions that bad decisions,” he said. “But that's for somebody other than me to decide.”
Harbin was celebrated as a “hometown boy” taking the helm when he became chief. He grew up in Carnegie and graduated from Carlynton High School in 1972.
“With his years of experience, he has been a wealth of knowledge,” Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek said. “He was very beneficial when I first started here. He was very beneficial in helping me get up to speed very quickly.”
Harbin has worked closely with Carnegie Elementary School, where he spoke at school programs; instituting the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program; and treated children chosen as Student of the Month to lunch — and rides in his police car. He also helped organize the annual Carnegie Volunteer Fire Department 5K Run/Walk, which helps raise money for the borough's volunteer fire department. The police department organizes the event each year to help out its firefighting counterpart.
An avid runner himself, Harbin said dozens stop him on his afternoon run to say, “Hello.” He said he plans to return each year for the event.
It will be difficult to say goodbye when he moves to North Carolina.
“These people …” he said, “as bad of a day as I could have in the office – when I got on my daily runs, there hasn't been a day that someone does stop and say, ‘Hey, chief,' or ask how I'm doing.”
Some, he said, he even has arrested over the years.
“Forever and ever, I will miss the people of Carnegie,” he said. “They are unmatched. I will miss these people.”
He isn't giving up all of his roots, though. His mother's home — the house where Harbin grew up — will not be sold. He and his family will use it as a place to stay when they visit.
“Even though I'll be in North Carolina, Carnegie will always be my home,” he said. “I've been here my entire life with the exception of four years in the Marines. That's a long time.”
But, he said again, he's ready for a change.
“It's a good feeling,” he said. “If I can walk out with the respect of the people I've served for 37 years, then this career has been a success.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Megan Guza to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New digital media center debuts at Chartiers Valley
- Family rolls into Bridgeville with ice-cream truck dream
- Chamber concert series coming to Scott church
- Fundraiser in Bridgeville to help family after liver transplant
- Architect says South Fayette district is ready for next step in school expansion