A bad tail light.
That’s why Eric Halverson got pulled over by a cop when he was a teenager.
At the time, he was a student at Katella High School in Anaheim and seriously into muscle cars.
Halverson was driving home from a car show in his ’72 Dodge Challenger when he got pulled over.
That traffic stop changed his life.
“The officer made a big impression on me,” says Halverson, who soon ditched plans to become a diesel mechanic and switched gears to become a cop.
Halverson took an introduction to law enforcement class at Fullerton College, got hooked, and in 1985 became a cadet at the Fullerton Police Department.
Flash forward nearly 30 years.
In mid-December, Halverson, 50, retired as a sergeant from the Fullerton PD, ending a 28-year career a couple of years earlier than planned.
Both of Halverson’s sons, Kyle, 25, and Michael, 22, followed their father into law enforcement. Kyle is an officer with the Ventura Police Department. In November 2014, Michael graduated from the academy and began his career as a Fullerton Police Officer.
Halverson did not plan on retiring until December 2016, but stepped down two years ahead of schedule so his son could pursue a career with the Fullerton PD.
“I’ll do anything for my sons,” says Halverson, who was known around the Fullerton PD for his no-nonsense, black-and-white, by-the-books approach to policing — the last six years as a traffic sergeant.
Halverson also was known for not being a big fan of motorcycles — even though he oversaw, for the last three years of his career, six Motor Officers.
“I don’t ride a motorcycle, and there’s no way I’m getting on one now,” Halverson said a couple of days before his last day on the job, Dec. 18, while posing for photos next to a patrol motorcycle.
“I’m 50 years old,” Halverson said, “and I don’t want to mangle up my body before I retire.”
One of Halverson’s favorite assignments at the FPD was working, for three years, on the Crime Impact Unit. Since disbanded, that unit went after the likes of rapists, drug dealers and other criminals.
“Our job was to find people who couldn’t be found,” said Halverson, whose career at the FPD also included working as a DARE officer for a year and as a school resource officer for four years.
While a cop, Halverson earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Chapman University.
Asked how he planned to spend his retirement, Halverson said: “I haven’t a clue.”
He said leaving the FPD after 28 years was very difficult. But he talked with pride about his sons’ careers and his years at the FPD.
“Where do I start?” Halverson said when asked what he enjoyed most about being a police officer.
“I got to go out and make decisions that affected lives in a positive way,” he said. “I was able to work outside and not sit behind a desk all day. And I enjoyed the new challenges that came up regularly, and learning from them.”
Halverson said he has no new job lined up and will avoid, over the next year, making any big decisions about what to do next.
His wife, Patty, remains working and is a secretary for Fullerton Fire.
Although retirement is new and a little uncomfortable for Halverson, he’s found one way to keep himself busy:
Feeding his passion for muscle cars.
He is planning to purchase a ’71 Barracuda in Texas that he will work on restoring.
Just don’t expect to see Halverson buying a Harley.