Pastin: Harbin ready for a little R&R after remarkable Carnegie career

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Jeff Harbin is a class act who deserves a long retirement after years of service to his hometown of Carnegie.

It is difficult to freeze 37 years into a lasting snapshot, but Harbin clearly reached his zenith on the night of Sept. 17, 2004, when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan blew into town and caused unprecedented flooding in low-lying Carnegie.

More than 20 people were stranded on the Mansfield Boulevard bridge and fearing for their lives.

Harbin kept the crowd calm as he mapped out a strategy to secure several rescue boats to get the trapped people out of harm's way.

There was one death that night locally, when Dennis Santiago, 35, lost his grip on a hanging tree limb and fell into the raging floodwaters. His body was found three days later under the Thornburg Bridge in Crafton.

Harbin later would say these were among his most harrowing moments in law enforcement.

Remember, this is a man who served in the Marine Corps and feared little.

Harbin became the go-to person when it came to crime issues in and out of town. He had a way of articulating complex issues.

Radio talk-show host Marty Griffin regularly called on Harbin to explain often complicated crime news.

Other media outlets took advantage of his savvy.

When the Carnegie crime rate soared one year recently because of a spike in reports at Carnegie Towers, Harbin waxed eloquently about a rough-edged issue involving this government-subsidized hot spot.

This is a “complicated and volatile issue” that will take a “collaborative effort” to manage, he said.

“We need to balance the rights of neighborhood residents to live in peace and tranquility with the rights of law-abiding, low-income people to live in safe and affordable housing.”

He kept fit by running every day — miles and miles.

Some say he kept his sanity, too, by running.

His resolve was tested in the past two and a half years, as he has served the dual role of police chief and borough manager.

He needs some R&R.

He has earned it.

Bob Pastin is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5801 or

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