“Neil Telford will always be remembered as the Chief who cared when caring counted for everything.” – US Rep Jackie Speier
Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate San Bruno Police Chief Neil Telford upon the occasion of his retirement from the San Bruno Police Department after 32 years of distinguished service. Chief Telford’s story is an example of a boy who grew up to serve his neighbors.
Neil Telford was raised in the adjacent city of South San Francisco. He graduated from South San Francisco High School and attended two of our outstanding community colleges: the College of San Mateo and Skyline College in San Bruno. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University, an outstanding institution also located in California’s 14th Congressional District.
In 1982, San Bruno hit the jackpot when it offered Neil Telford the chance to be a volunteer Reserve Police Officer. During that time, he attended the basic police academy in San Jose and was then sworn in as a full-time San Bruno police officer in 1984. He immediately demonstrated his leadership capability by serving as a Field Training Officer and as a Detective. San Bruno promoted Detective Telford to Sergeant in 1991. From there, his rise was swift as he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1997 and to Captain in 2002. He became San Bruno’s sixth Police Chief in 2006.
San Bruno is a wonderful city of 42,000 nestled on the bay and across the hillsides of the San Francisco Peninsula. It is characterized by families. There are families in San Bruno Park, families in its churches, families supporting its outstanding schools, and civic engagement that rivals that of any community in America. It is home to the Peninsula’s middle class, an outstanding community college, and amazing youth baseball. The city is blessed with beautiful trees, quaint streets and a new train station that will soon be a centerpiece of downtown revitalization. It is also a community that supports its police and fire departments, and a town in which children respect public safety professionals.
In both the State Legislature and Congress, it has been my privilege to represent this remarkable city, and to interact with Chief Telford on many occasions. However, none of my interactions with the Chief were marked by tragedy until one late afternoon on September 9, 2010. Eight precious lives were lost that fateful afternoon when a natural gas transmission pipeline exploded in a residential neighborhood of San Bruno. Throughout the night and on through the days to follow, bravery and compassion in the line of duty were an every-moment event on the front lines. The explosion shaped this nation’s laws and practices on pipeline safety.
Chief Telford led his police force through the fire and the difficult days thereafter with outstanding compassion, strength and calm. In those difficult weeks, events that might otherwise have marked decades of experience cascaded upon Chief Telford and other public safety professionals, the leadership and the residents of San Bruno. Through it all, Chief Telford stayed focused on recovery, protection of public safety, and the preservation of the dignity of every resident of San Bruno. While he has many other notable accomplishments in his career, Neil Telford will always be remembered as the Chief who cared when caring counted for everything.
Mr. Speaker, Chief Telford is a graduate of the State of California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), the Command College program, and he also holds Advanced, Supervisory, Management and Executive certificates from POST. California law enforcement is marked by a high degree of professionalism. In truth, Neil Telford could have written the definitive textbook on police leadership.
Please join with me in congratulating Chief Neil Telford upon the occasion of his retirement after 32 years of public service to the residents of San Bruno. He and his wife, Cindy, have lived for 22 years in the city that he protects. They have a son, Anthony, who also resides in this special place on the Peninsula. We wish the Telford family much happiness in the coming years.