Editor’s note: In honor of Behind the Badge OC’s one-year anniversary, we will be sharing the 30 most-read stories. This story was originally published March 26.
The sergeant told his colleagues he wanted something low key for his retirement.
No ceremony or formal send-off.
Just some warm, quiet goodbyes.
So, naturally, Tak Kim recently was the very-public focus of the Fullerton Police Department’s first-ever Walk of Honor.
Dozens of officers, FPD professional staff, firefighters from Fullerton and other cities, Fullerton city officials and Kim’s family and friends honored him March 2 with a dignified ceremony outside PD headquarters.
“It was very emotional,” Kim said a couple of weeks after his Walk of Honor — clearly touched by the event.
“I was flattered and honored.”
Capt. John Siko, a close friend, borrowed the idea of a Walk of Honor from a police agency outside Orange County.
The concept: mark the end of an honorably retired officer’s career in a way that goes beyond cake and refreshments in the conference room or dinner and drinks at a local eatery.
The half-hour ceremony began at 4 p.m. with Kim, whose nearly 32-year career with the FPD began when he was a cadet, facing two lines of uniformed personnel and non-uniformed personnel and guests.
An “End of Watch” broadcast echoed throughout the courtyard of the agency’s headquarters on Commonwealth Avenue as uniformed personnel stood at attention.
“Thank you for your service, sir,” the dispatcher said.
Kim then walked between the rows of officers now at ease and other non-uniformed personnel and guests who formed the lines that snaked out to Highland Avenue.
“Am I walking too fast?” Kim uttered at one point as he continued down the gauntlet, exchanging handshakes and quick hugs with several admirers.
He then joined his wife, Doreen, and sons, Brennen and Lucas, at the flagpole on Commonwealth Avenue.
After Kim saluted Chief Dan Hughes for the last time, Siko welcomed guests.
Hughes then presented Kim’s wife with flowers.
Fullerton Mayor Greg Sebourn, joined at the ceremony by Councilman Doug Chaffee, told Kim: “Thank you for your dedicated service to the city and the many sacrifices you’ve made on behalf of this city.”
Hughes then presented Kim with a folded flag that had flown over the department, and then his retirement badge.
Kim kissed his wife and sons and, after a few words of gratitude from Kim — he signaled out fellow cop retirees in attendance, calling them “Fullerton’s greatest generation” — it was time for cake and refreshments in the department’s Mural Room.
Kim was known as a steady, solid guy around the Fullerton PD — a good person.
Reluctantly sitting down for an interview last week — Kim likes talking about himself as much as he likes formal retirement ceremonies — he said with his two sons in the midst of travel hockey playoffs, he’s had little chance to unwind since retiring March 2.
“I haven’t had a summer off since my senior year in high school, so I’m really looking forward to that,” Kim said.
The avid outdoorsman loves to fish and has managed to get in a few short fishing trips in March.
This summer and beyond, he plans to do a lot of traveling with his family. He has seen little of the U.S. and that’s at the top of the list.
Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and relocated with his parents to Southern California at a very young age. He has a younger sister, Susan, who is a registered nurse at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton.
Tak Kim became interested in law enforcement after meeting several Fullerton police officers while working at Giovanni’s Pizza during his years at Fullerton High School.
The pizzeria, on Williamson Avenue and Euclid Street, was a longtime favorite of police officers.
“I had a very positive impression of them,” Kim recalls. “They were down to earth, professional and seemed very proud of what they were doing.”
A high school official told Kim about the FPD cadet program.
After he graduated from high school in 1983 he was hired as a cadet in September that year.
Two years later, Kim became a full-time Fullerton Police officer, launching a career highlighted by almost 18 years on the SWAT team. He was a supervisor on the North County Special Weapons and Tactics team’s sniper detail when he retired.
Kim fondly recalled his four-year stint on a multi-agency task force formed in 1999 to target big auto theft rings. He also served as a polygraph examiner for the FPD and as a motor officer, among other assignments.
“It’s got to be the people,” Kim said when asked what he will most miss most about the Fullerton Police Department.
“It’s been a great career,” he added. “My goal was to honorably retire. This agency has a deep and dignified tradition. But what I am most proud of is my wife and my boys. I’m more proud of them than any of my achievements as a cop.
“This place has allowed me to have so much.”
The decision to retire, Kim said, was simple.
“It was time to move on,” he said.
And get excited about summer vacation.