By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – Gene Ellis officially assumed duties as Belton's new police administrator after he was sworn into the department Monday morning.
Ellis' title will change to police chief after he becomes re-certified as a Texas peace officer under the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement's Officer Standards and Education.
Mayor Jim Covington, City Manager Sam Listi, employees of the department and other officials witnessed Ellis' induction at the Police and Courts building.
Former Police Chief Mike Sleeth retired last August. Jen Wesley was appointed as interim police chief during the vacancy, and will return to her position as department commander.
Listi recommended Ellis' appointment to Belton's city council in late February after a nationwide search garnered 70 applicants for the position.
Waters Consulting Group and International City and County Management Association Consulting Services assisted the City Council in its decision.
"Ellis brings a unique combination of police experience and community orientation that makes him a great fit in Belton," Listi said.
Ellis grew up in Houston. For the past seven years, he served as police chief in DeWitt, Iowa, and has 20 years of experience in law enforcement.
The title is not foreign to Ellis. Aside from DeWitt, he served as chief of police in Jacinto City, Texas, and Centerville, Iowa.
Much of his family lives in Texas, and proximity to them was a big incentive for accepting the position at BPD. His wife, Sharon, is also a native Texan.
Ellis said he will spend the rest of the week getting oriented to his new surroundings. He attended Monday's first-shift briefing at 7 a.m., read through reports from the night before and got his office set up.
"I e-mailed a personnel survey to everyone in the office a month ago, asking a series of questions to get to know them better, get a perception of what they think the department needs to work on, strengths and their interests," Ellis said.
BPD has a staff of just under 40 employees, 27 of whom are officers. Ellis said the department is authorized for 28 officers, and wants to hire another one soon.
"I hope we can start moving in that direction," Ellis said.
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.