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Kennedy nervous, excited for new role as Carnegie police chief

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Jeffrey Kennedy can't help but be a little bit nervous. He's filling some pretty big shoes.

Kennedy was sworn in Monday night as Carnegie's interim police chief. He will lose the “interim” part of the title when longtime police Chief Jeff Harbin's retirement takes effect Aug. 9.

“You have to be a little nervous,” Kennedy said. “It's something I never did in terms of the administrative end — $1.8 million is a big budget to be in charge of.”

He doesn't take over the helm cold turkey, though; since 2004, he has been in charge of overseeing the department when Harbin was away.

Kennedy, 52, has been a member of the Carnegie Police Department since 1988 and became a sergeant in 1995.

“There is nothing I'd rather be doing,” he said. “Everyone has mornings where they don't want to get up and go to work, but 99 percent of the time, I'm ready to come in. No two days are alike.”

Kennedy was born and raised in Edgewood and graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus in Monroeville. He attended the police academy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated as valedictorian.

“I just kind of loved the job,” he said. “It's something I always wanted to do.”

Kennedy attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2000. The Yellow Brick, given to all of that academy's graduates, is one of the few things he plans on putting up in his new office.

“My kids were little when I finished the training, and we had just gotten a new car,” he said. “One of them hit the brick off the side of the car. I was more worried about the brick than about the car.”

He doesn't take over the helm cold turkey, though – since 2004, he has been in charge of overseeing the department when Harbin has been away.

Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek said he thinks Kennedy is ready for the job.

“I think he brings a unique perspective to the position,” Kobistek said. “He's excited. He has some ideas he wants to hit the ground running with.”

While Kennedy doesn't want to make many immediate changes — the department has been run wonderfully under Harbin, he said — he does have plans already in the works.

“I want there to be more interaction between the community and police,” he said. “I want people to know the police as people, not just officers.”

Harbin said he thinks his sergeant is ready for the job, as well.

“I know the kind of person Jeff is, and I know that he can do this job,” Harbin said.

“So I only gave him one piece of advice: I told him, ‘When you're in command, you command. Don't make decisions the way you think I would. Make them the way you would.'”

Harbin said he knows the chief's job can take a toll on all aspects of that person's life.

“I told his wife that when he takes this position, she gets promoted too,” he said. “That's a fact. What he bears – what he takes home – that's her cross to bear, too. But I know she'll be able to do this as good as my wife did it.

“A police officer's spouse is not an easy thing to be,” he said.

Kennedy said the ease with which the officers in the department work together with will make the transition much smoother.

“That part's easy,” he said. “We've all come up through the ranks together.”

Kennedy said he looks forward to working with Kobistek, and the sentiment also returned by the mayor himself.

“I think he and I will work very well together,” Kobistek said.

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

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