By DAVID TUMA
The Belton Journal
Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis has notified City Manager Sam Listi that Ellis plans to retire from
the City of Belton and municipal public service effective Feb. 2, 2024.
“The highest honor of my career has been to serve alongside the servant guardians at the Belton Police Department and all of the other great employees working for the City of Belton,” Ellis said. For the past nine years Ellis has served in the dual role of Assistant City Manager and Police
As Assistant City Manager he supervised Parks and Recreation, Library Services, Communications, and Information Technology. He has served in law enforcement for 34 years,
including 24 years as a police chief. He has been the Belton Police Chief for 14 years.
“This decision was not taken lightly and was difficult because I love Belton,” Ellis said. “I love the people I work with, and love this profession. However, the timing is right, and a succession plan is in place.”
As an Assistant City Manager, Ellis was instrumental in an exterior renovation at the Lena Armstrong Public Library and a planned renovation of the interior of the building. His leadership over Parks and Recreation included the expansion of the Nolan Creek Hike & Bike Trail and Heritage Park.
His vision to expand the use of technology and social media was so effective it garnered statewide awards and recognition. He was also instrumental in developing a program that emphasizes excellence in customer service, as well as a new employee orientation program called Belton 101.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have Gene as a leader in Belton,” Mayor David K. Leigh said. “His servant model of community policing has made a huge impact, and professionalism and customer service have improved citywide under his guidance. He’s going to be deeply missed.”
“Gene is the perfect example of servant leadership. He has created a climate of excellence that is the envy of other police departments. Beltonians have been fortunate to have him as our Police chief and ACM. I wish him all the best, but I will personally miss him very much,” said Councilman Wayne Carpenter.
Over the past 14-plus years the Belton Police Department became one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the region and is recognized nationally and statewide for its adherence to a community policing model that emphasizes servant leadership.
“Gene has been an integral part of our leadership team,” Listi said. “His approach to police work makes officers better people and gives members of the community peace of mind—and his approach to leading other departments is just as effective.”
In 2011, the Belton Police Department became the first Bell County agency, and one of the first 50 agencies in Texas, to achieve accredited status from the Texas Law Enforcement Best Practices Accreditations Program. The program is administered by the Texas Police Chiefs Association. Ellis served as president of the organization in 2019-2020.
During his tenure at the Police Department, Ellis initiated a successful volunteer program called Citizens Helping In Police Service (CHIPS), which provided meaningful opportunities for residents to partner with police in making a difference in the community. CHIPS volunteers serve as administrative personnel, parade staff, park patrol, volunteers at events, and much more.
One of the signature CHIPS efforts is the City’s RUOK program, which performs regular welfare checks on elderly residents. As of this week, the program is credited with saving 16 lives.
“I could go on and on about the Belton Way and all the amazing things the great employees of this city do every day in service to others,” Ellis said. “Belton is doing it the right way, and I will continue to be the biggest cheerleader for the Belton Police Department and for the City of Belton.”
“I feel comfortable leaving. We have a dynamic team here. Sam Listi is one of the best human beings I know. He is 100 percent Belton. We have a great council and mayor. There is growth here but ultimately it is the people that make it different. Over the years the Police Department adapted to the changes in technology and so did criminals. The hardest part of leaving the department is the people. This is such a wonderful place,” said Ellis.