Kurt Davis' cup always seems half full.
The effervescent Carson City Sheriff's sergeant said Monday that changes in city employees' retirement plans are forcing him to leave the department. But even news that he will no longer be the officer that he's been for 29 years can't stop him from flashing his well-known dimpled smile.
"I'm not leaving Carson City. This is my home, I've watched it grow up," he said.
Davis, 54, spent his early years moving from base to base while his father served in the Air Force. After settling in Carson City when his dad retired, Davis graduated from Carson High School in 1972. In 1977, he became a reserve deputy with the Carson City Sheriff's Department. In 1979, he was hired on full time. Carson City population at the time: 15,000.
Davis started out in a patrol car, but for nine of his years with the department, he was a motorcycle cop.
"They said, 'Kurt we are going to buy you a motorcycle, pay your insurance, pay your gas and pay you to ride around and meet people.' I said OK."
A love for motorcycles consumed him. He now owns 11 and is president of the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. His wife, Denise, recently got her own bike and Davis said he looks forward to the time after her training when they can ride together.
Davis has set his retirement date at March 27 so he can take advantage of a state subsidy for medical insurance. But just because he's hanging up his Carson badge doesn't mean he's out of law enforcement for good.
"It's just what I'm programmed to do," he said. "The first couple of months I might take some extended bike rides, but after that I'm going back to work, you have to work and you might as well do something to be a part of the solution instead of the problem."
He promises that he will continue to regale whomever listens with his admittedly corny jokes, even though he feels a sting at being forced to retire so he can take advantage of health insurance. Senate Bill 544, introduced and subsequently passed during the 2007 session of the Nevada Legislature, directs that any non-state employee who retires on or before Sept. 1, 2008, may join the Public Employees' Benefits Program. Non-state employees retiring after Sept. 1, 2008, can no longer join the program.
Davis said he could never afford the insurance on his own.
"More than anything else, I really, really wanted to make 30 (years), but you know for every door that closes another opens," he said.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.