By Sonya Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - The Belton Police Department was accredited by the Texas Police Chiefs Association - the highest achievement a police department in Texas can receive, according to Marlin Price, program director for the TPCA's Best Practices Recognition Program.
Of the 2,800 municipal police departments in the state, he said, only 46 have earned the distinction.
Chief Gene Ellis was presented a certificate during Tuesday night's City Council meeting, officially acknowledging the department as a Texas Recognized Law Enforcement Agency.
To earn accreditation, a department must voluntarily go through a rigorous process to ultimately meet 164 standards for law enforcement.
Standards pertain to such policies and procedures as use of force, pursuits, and patrol and investigations operations.
Proof of compliance is determined by independent assessors.
Not all departments are successful in their attempt to earn the designation, Price said.
A committee composed of nine active police chiefs votes determine whether a department is accredited.
In Belton's case, the vote was unanimous.
"It means your police department is one of the best in the state," Price said. "Chief, you've got a ... good police department," he told Ellis.
The police chief extended his own praise, commending Commander Jen Wesley, assistant program manager Sgt. Larry Berg and administrative assistant Laura Hutchens on their efforts in helping the department earn accreditation.
He also praised the Criminal Investigations Division and patrol officers for their efforts.
"Everybody in our organization," he said.
Ellis also pointed out another achievement related to earning accreditation.
"We are the first agency in Bell County," he said.
The TCPA reviews police departments that have been accredited to ensure they are still in compliance.
"In four years, we're coming back," Price said.
Contact Sonya Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.