By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal
The Belton Police Department will celebrate another good year next week as 2014 draws to a close. The past 12 months have been quite eventful for the department, as they strove to both keep the city safe and improve the community.
Belton police officers responded to a total of 30,985 calls between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 this year, including 603 accidents and 4,129 criminal incidents. The department made 1,770 arrests throughout this time period.
The year began with a bang, as the BPD successfully handled the aggravated robbery and kidnapping
that occurred outside of Jake’s Chinese Buffet just three days into the new year. Later that month, a major ice storm
wreaked havoc in the area, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the accidents for the year. February was a bittersweet
month for the department as they made several arrests for car burglaries throughout the city and announced the selection
of Baird Williams Construction for the renovations and additions to the department building.
However, they also bid farewell to Detective Patrick Mullins as he retired from police work. March also saw tears
as Community Service Specialists Sharon Lewis and Karen Green retired from the department. April kept officers on
their toes making multiple arrests and welcoming several new family members.
The month started on a sour note, as the BPD SWAT team was placed on standby for the Fort Hood Shooting incident.
However, the officers persevered through the tragedy to graduate the fifth Citizens Police Academy class April 3. Officer Joseph Chapa was presented a Lifesaving Award for saving a choking toddler, and he and Officer Josh Koontz were
selected as Officer of the Quarter-1st Quarter 2014, while Sgt. Daniel Ontiveros recognized as Belton Officer of the Year
during the 46th Annual Knights of Columbus Law Enforcement Awards Banquet later in the month. Multiple officers and C.H.I.P.S. volunteers also participated in the Annual Kiwanis Turtle Fest and made arrests in a series of burglaries and
May and June proved the most distressing months for BPD officers as they mourned the loss of Killeen PD Officer Chuck
Dinwiddie and Little River-Academy Police Chief Lee Dixon. However, the loss of their comrades did not slow officers, as they came back in July to celebrate Independence Day and sponsor cadets Christopher MacDonald, Gerardo Torres, and Daric Henderson for the Temple Police Academy.
In August, Police Chief Gene Ellis was appointed to the dual role of Assistant City Manager/Chief of Police and the department completed the design of the addition/expansion project alongside architects, engineers and the contractor. The
BPD Honor Guard recognized as the Officers of the Quarter-2nd Quarter 2014.The department successfully passed a Criminal Justice Information Systems audit by the Texas Dept of Public Safety in September.
National Night Out brought officers and citizens closer in October, as did the first ever Coffee with a Cop event at Arusha
Coffee House. The month also saw officers calmly and successfully deal with the Ebola scare in the city, as well as multiple arrests of burglary suspects. Officer Raul Montes was recognized as Officer of the Quarter-3rd Quarter 2014, and BPD was recognized at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Orlando, Fla. by receiving a Webbeer-
Seavy Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
In November, BPD received Re-Recognition status from the Texas Police Chiefs Association Best Practices Recognition Program. For the final month of the year, the department stayed busy through a multitude of activities. Officers and volunteers once again came together to assist their community through a food drive benefitting Helping Hands
Ministry and Christmas on the Chisholm Trail. Sgt. Kimberley Hamilton received the Les Hallbauer Award for Public Service for dedicated service to the citizens of Belton, and Officers Christopher MacDonald, Gerardo Torres, and
Daric Henderson graduated from Temple Police Academy and were sworn into the family at the Dec. 9 City Council meeting.
The council also approved the $2.7 million Guaranteed Maximum Price Contract with Baird Williams Construction
for the PD Addition/Renovation project at that meeting. The department’s RU-OK? Program, which checks on elderly
residents twice a week, began serving their 100th client, up from 30 at the beginning of the year. According to Chief Ellis,
the department’s goals for 2015 include hosting the sixth Citizens Police Academy Class, completing the Renovation/Addition Project and the Belton Regional Firearms Training Center, continuing to build police community partnerships through programs like E-Watch and National Night Out, and maintaining and enhancing their prevention focused model of community policing.