The Belton Journal


   Local and state officials, family, and friends gathered at the Cadence Bank Center Expo on Thursday afternoon to honor Belton Chief of Police, Gene Ellis, as he retired from nearly 15 years of dedicated service as chief.

   A proclamation was read in part by Mayor David Leigh, “Whereas Gene Ellis has nobly served the City of Belton as Police Chief for 15 years and as the Assistant City Manager for nine years.”

   Chief Ellis was a graduate of the FBI National Academy of Certified Public Manager.

   Additionally, Leigh noted how Ellis emphasized an approach in policing that extended beyond the badge to prioritize community wellbeing.

   Recognized for his high standards of selfless service, Ellis played a pivotal role in modernizing the Belton Police Department and implementing a prevention-focused model of community policing.

   In his tenure with BPD, the department achieved unprecedented professional recognition; becoming the first law enforcement agency in Bell County accredited as a recognized law enforcement agency by the Texas Police Chief’s Association. The department has been reaccredited every four years between 2011 and 2023, consistently ranking among the top five percent in Texas.

   Under his leadership, Ellis spearheaded initiatives like Coffee with a Cop, Citizens Police Academy, R U OK program, Chips Volunteer program, and clergy partnerships; further enhancing community relations and public outreach.

   City Manager Sam Listi said, “It was 15 years ago, almost to the day when the City conducted interviews with Iowa Police Chief Gene Ellis for the City of Belton Chief of Police.” In the interview they discussed the importance of Police Department accreditation, a Citizens Police Academy, Police Department communications, and community outreach.

   “You achieved every goal with excellence,” Listi said to Ellis.

   During the ceremony, Listi took a moment to recall how Ellis’s improvements by implementing new objectives and initiatives to bolster and oversee the BPD, were successes in prevention focused policing.

   Ellis’s dual role as Police Chief and Assistant City Manager made him responsible for several City Departments. Ellis led the City of Belton’s Excellence in Customer Service initiative and was instrumental in the creation of “Belton 101,” an orientation program for new employees.

   Ellis stood at the podium and said, “I want to thank you for coming. Phenomenal gifts, but what means more to me than anything— is that you came.”

   Ellis looked across the room and expressed his appreciation to see those who knew him at the start of his law enforcement career.

   “I see a lot of my police family from the beginning. My classmates from the Pasadena 42nd academy. The last classmate retired a week ago, so there’s none of us left from Academy,” Ellis said.

   Ellis credited his Chief from Pasadena, who gave him the vision of what Ellis calls Prevention-Focused Community Policing. He gave recognition to all his Belton friends, officers he worked with, and Texas Police Chiefs, and officers from Houston who made the trip.

   “I’m so proud of the relationships I’ve made, so many Mayors and former Mayors from all around.”

   He acknowledged many people of his team for the things they have accomplished. “I would be remiss if I don’t tell you the people most important in my life, and that’s my family.”

   In concluding the ceremony, Ellis said he has something to pass on.

   “It’s one of the greatest things I get to do.”

   Holding up his hand, he said, “This is the city cell phone,” followed by a lot of laughter and clapping.

   “I’m going to gladly give this back. It makes an obnoxious noise in the middle of the night.” Ellis passed it off to the new Belton Chief of Police, Larry Berg.

   “I love all of you. I love this community. It has been an absolute honor serving you,” Ellis said.

   Ellis is a is a native of Houston and started his law enforcement career in the Houston area where he worked for the second largest city in Southeast Texas, Pasadena. Ellis served as a police Chief for more than 25 years, including a number of years in the State of Iowa before returning to Texas in 2009 when he was appointed Chief of Police in Belton.

   Ellis will continue his career in law enforcement as Executive Director of the Texas Police Chiefs Association (TPCA).

   In concluding his heartfelt gratitude, Chief Gene Ellis keyed up his police radio and requested dispatch to show him 1042—off duty. It is a tradition to sign off one last time at the end of a retirement celebration.

   A BPD dispatcher broadcast was issued stating, “Chief Gene Ellis, Badge number 19, began his leadership on the Belton Police Department on April 20, 2009. Chief Ellis began his law enforcement career in Pasadena and held several positions before coming to Belton.”