By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
Gene Ellis is excited about returning to his home state.
Last month, the Belton City Council, City Manager Sam Listi and Mayor Jim Covington chose Ellis as the police department's new chief administrator.
Ellis has a 20-year career in law enforcement, but he stumbled into the field by accident.
As a freshman at the University of Houston, Ellis enrolled in an introductory criminal justice class to fulfil an elective requirement.
Ellis fell in love with it.
"I didn't know what I wanted to do when I started college. I thought I wanted to be an architect," he said. "Being able to help people who can't help themselves, children for example, is one of the most gratifying parts of my job."
For the past seven years, Ellis served as chief of police in DeWitt, Iowa. He wanted to return to Texas because much of his family lives here and he wanted to be closer to them. His wife, Sharon, is also a native Texan.
Chief of police is not a foreign title to Ellis. Aside from DeWitt, he served as chief of police in Jacinto City, Texas, and Centerville, Iowa.
Ellis will take command of the department on April 20. First, he must become recertified as a peace officer in Texas.
Ellis made a couple of trips to Belton to meet with police department staff and city officials to acclimate himself with the department. He said the impression he received was everyone in the department is committed to their profession and community.
Ellis said he will approach the new job by listening and learning the culture of the department first.
"You can't come in and make sweeping changes," Ellis said. "I'll see what works and what may need changes, but the big thing is to listen and learn at first."
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.