Just when everyone was ready to head home at the end of another city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, some big news came.
Willow Park Police Chief Carrie Ellis announced she is retiring from the department after six years leading the department, effective March 24.
“Thank you for your confidence in me,” Ellis told the council, adding with a chuckle, “I have enjoyed almost every moment.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve Willow Park.”
Ellis, formerly West, recently married Belton Chief of Police Gee Ellis. She said she can’t reveal what her next stop will be, only to say she is going to stay in law enforcement as a chief.
“I’m excited for new challenges and opportunities,” Ellis said. “The city of Willow Park has been exceptional to me, to take a chance on someone outside of Parker County and the first female chief in Willow Park and Parker County.”
Ellis, born in Fort Worth and a graduate of Paschal High School, came to Willow Park in 2017. Not only did she make history, she advanced Parker County’s second largest police department greatly in her time at the helm.
Under her leadership, the department attained the status of “Recognized Agency” with the Texas Police Chief’s Association in 2020. That same year she received the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce’s Pappy Thompson Community Service Award.
“It’s never been this good at the police department before,” Place 2 Councilman Chawn Gilliland responded to Ellis. “Whoever takes your place has some big shoes to fill.”
City Manager Bryan Grimes said that even though he saw it coming, he didn’t want to realize it, even when Ellis brought her retirement papers into his office.
“It didn’t really hit me until she walked into my office with two pieces of paper. I didn’t want to take them,” Grimes said, then telling Ellis, “You’re the best chief of police I’ve ever worked with. I always felt safer knowing you were our chief.”
Before coming to Willow Park, Ellis had served more than 21 years with the City of Corinth police department, including being named Officer of the Year and Supervisor of the Year in 2009. She retired from the Corinth PD in July 2016. But, after working as a risk manager in the private sector, she was reminded her calling is in law enforcement.
Ellis said the thing she will remember most about her time in Willow Park is “how well everyone embraced me when I got here - and the continued support.”
Of her work in Willow Park, Ellis said, “You’re supposed to leave it better than you found it. “I hope when they remember Chief Ellis in Willow Park they remember me fondly, that I looked after the city and I hope I did that to their expectations.”
Then, the ever humble Ellis, added, “Without the men and women of the police department none of this works. They deserve every accolade.”
Ellis has two grown daughters in the area, along with four grandchildren - and, of course, lots of friends. So, even though she is not going to be living in Willow Park any longer, she said it will remain a part of her life.
“This is another family to me,” she said. “I’m not going to tell them goodbye, just I’ll see you later.”
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