BELTON, Texas (FOX 44) – Belton Assistant City Manager and Police Chief Gene Ellis has announced his retirement.
City Manager Sam Listi was notified on Wednesday. The City of Belton says Ellis plans to retire on February 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.
According to the City, Ellis has served in the dual role of Assistant City Manager and Police Chief for the past nine years. As Assistant City Manager, he supervised Parks and Recreation, Library Services, Communications and Information Technology.
Ellis 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.”
The City says that 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.
Ellis’s vision to expand the use of technology and social media was so effective that it garnered statewide awards and recognition. He was also instrumental in developing a program emphasizing 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.”
The City says the Belton Police Department has become one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the region over the past 14-plus years. It is recognized nationally and statewide for its adherence to a community policing model emphasizing servant leadership.
“Gene has been an integral part of our leadership team,” City Manager Sam 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. According to the City, this 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.
The City says 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.”