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Burlingame Police Chief set to retire
October 06, 2009, 10:10 PM By Bill Silverfarb

Burlingame Police Chief Jack Van Etten announced his retirement yesterday after serving the city for more than 36 years.

His retirement becomes effective in December.

Van Etten, 57, plans to spend quality time with his father, who is 91, and do some traveling with his wife of 32 years, Lynn.

He has spent his entire adult life in law enforcement, working part-time in the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office while in college, before applying to the Burlingame Police Department in 1973.

Van Etten grew up in Half Moon Bay and attended the University of San Francisco. He is a season ticket holder for the USF Dons basketball team for 25 years now and will watch the team play for the West Coast Conference title in Las Vegas this February.

He looks forward to continue working with nonprofit groups in the county such as Samaritan House and CALL Primrose and has a best buddy from college urging him to do some private investigator work after his retirement.

"I also have my teaching credential, so I have lots of options,” he said.

Van Etten worked in almost every sworn position and capacity within the department over the years, including specialized assignments in investigations and field operations. Prior to his appointment as chief, Van Etten served as the commanding officer in all of the major divisions within the police department. He was appointed Burlingame’s ninth police chief in May 2004.

Mayor Ann Keighran said she was sorry to hear Van Etten was leaving.

"He has been an asset to the department and the community. He will be a hard person to replace,” Keighran said.

The city has not decided how to replace Van Etten yet, Keighran said.

 A replacement may be found in-house or the city might search for an outsider to take over the department.

Van Etten has resided in Burlingame since 1976 and has one adult daughter, Kristi. He is active in volunteer work at USF and with Lions International, serving as president of both the Burlingame Lions Club and the Peninsula Council of Lions Clubs. He is also the current president of the 100 Club of San Mateo County, an organization that assists the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

"Our police department continues to have an excellent reputation within our community and with other law enforcement agencies due to outstanding departmental employees who make a difference protecting our community on a daily basis. I will sincerely miss all of the employees who I’ve worked with and interacted with on a daily basis, as these employees are the foundation for the outstanding reputation of the Burlingame Police Department — past, present and into the future,” Van Etten said.

Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.

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