Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Dave Leo, left, smiles as his wife, Vicki, hugs Police Chief Dave Helquist at his retirement party Friday at the Kaysville Fire Station.

KAYSVILLE — Fresh out of the Air Force 35 years ago, Dave Helquist applied with several agencies to be a police officer.

"It just so happened that Kaysville hired me," he said Friday. "When I started, there were just four officers."

He worked his way up the ranks, and now the chief of the 24-member Kaysville Police Department is retiring.

"I'm 59 years old; I've got 35 years of service. It just seemed like an ideal time to retire," he said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News. "I can leave on a high note. It's a good time to go out."

At his retirement party Friday, friends and law enforcement colleagues packed a conference room at the Kaysville Fire Station to wish him well.

"He's one of the best people to work with that I've ever known in law enforcement," Davis County Sheriff Bud Cox said. "It's going to be a loss for us."

Banners proclaiming "Happy Retirement" hung from the walls, and photos were laid out showing a young Officer Helquist. An old newspaper clipping even touted a recipe for "Chief Helquist's Quick 'N Easy Chili."

Helquist has been chief for 17 years. In that time, he's managed to keep crime down and stay on top of growth in this Davis County bedroom community.

"We've been fortunate to have a low crime rate. I think it's because we have good citizens that live here. We have really good police officers, too," he said.

It is Kaysville's growth that the city will need to keep up with, Helquist said.

"We've got a tremendous amount of homes being built. We've got new schools planned," he said. "The growth's going to increase traffic. It's going to increase incidents. It's going to bring probably more crime in here ... We've got to have a department that's going to respond to that and be proactive."

Under his watch, Helquist said, the city was able to give him a new officer a year. He hopes that continues for the next police chief, who has not been named.

In retirement, Helquist said he and his wife plan to travel and spend time with their grandkids. He'll also do more ATV riding, he said.

"I don't have any regrets," he said. "Just lots of good memories."