By Sonya Campbell

Harker Heights Herald

BELTON - A variety of issues related to law enforcement topped the agenda during the Belton City Council meeting Tuesday.

Police Chief Gene Ellis presented his department's annual report for 2010, which indicated crime in Belton rose by 24 percent overall last year. The economic downturn was at least partly blamed for the increase in assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts.

On the positive side, Ellis reported a decrease in the number of robbery, larceny, criminal mischief and burglary of a motor vehicle cases. Also, the number of sex crimes dropped from 24 in 2009 to 18 in 2010.

Also during the meeting, a swearing-in ceremony was conducted for Richard Kusak, Belton's newest police officer.

Kusak, 31, is a native of Ohio and graduated from the Central Texas Police Academy on Feb. 18 and passed his state licensing exam. He finished near the top of his class academically and was recognized with the Top Gun award for his marksmanship during the academy.

Kusak spent seven years in the U.S. Army.

His job with the Belton Police Department is his first law-enforcement role. He will spend the next several months in the Field Training Officer program.

The council also approved the purchase of three vehicles for the police department, as well as an amendment to an interlocal assistance agreement allowing the police department to participate in the Bell County Organized Crime Unit.

In other business, the council:

Approved a general development plan for the La Cachette development - about 540 acres located generally east of Farm-to-Market 1670, south of U.S. Highway 190 and adjacent to the north bank of the Lampasas River.

Approved a final subdivision plat for Northcliffe, Phase IX, an 18-acre tract in Belton's and Temple's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The tract is located generally west of Farm-to-Market 2271 and south of Farm-to-Market 2305.

Approved the demolition of four substandard structures. They are located at 1005 E. Avenue B, 204 S. Head St., 123 Walker St. and 1016 Spring St.

Conducted an annual review of its investment policy.

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