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Muncie police chief leaving department at the end of the year

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 17:40:42-05

MUNCIE — Muncie police chief Joe Winkle’s last day with the department will be December 30.

Mayor Dennis Tyler appointed Winkle in 2016 who at the time was serving as the director of the emergency communications center.

Winkle, a 37-year police veteran, also served as the the city's police chief from 1996 to 2008.

“I will no longer be involved in the police department, but I plan to stay in town so I can be close to the grandkids,” Winkle told RTV6 Thursday.

Winkle said technically he was already retired when he returned in 2016 as police chief and has been working as a contract employee.

“I couldn’t go back to rank-and-file even if I wanted to,” Winkle said. “I was already retired.”

Winkle’s departure comes during a turbulent time for the City of Muncie.

Mayor Tyler decided not to run for re-election and is federally charged with theft of government funds.

Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour has not yet name his choice for police chief.

PREVIOUS | Mayor Dennis Tyler arrested by FBI

Federal authorities are currently investigating several Muncie police officers for alleged police brutality.

Chief Winkle said his departure has nothing to do with the ongoing probe and pointed out the FBI’s investigation into the mayor is a completely separate matter.

Winkle said two officers, who he believes are targets of the federal investigation into the police department, are currently on administrative leave — Jeremy Gibson and Chase Winkle, the chief’s son.

“I thought it was best for them to not be out on the road,” Winkle said. “I was not comfortable with them working the road while they are targets of this investigation.”

Chief Winkle said the investigation has been going on for at least six months, but no grand jury indictments have been handed down to any police officers.

“They’re either going to issue indictments or they’re not, and if they do, we’ll deal with that end of it,” Winkle said. “They’ve been doing interviews for six months, and I don’t know how long it’s going to go.”

The Muncie Police Department is also facing several excessive force lawsuits.

PREVIOUS | Delaware County man files excessive force lawsuit against Muncie police officers | Ex-informant sues Muncie PD for excessive force

Winkle said the agency’s insurance carrier is also reviewing cases that have come under scrutiny in recent months.

Winkle said federal investigators have requested information on about 10 different cases.

One of the cases being looked at is a story RTV6 first showed you last year.

In 2018, Chase Winkle and another officer were involved in a scuffle captured on body cameras with Jessie Vernon. During the scuffle, Vernon was injured and broke his collar bone.

PREVIOUS | CALL 6: Muncie police making changes after body camera failures |
Prosecutors dismiss all charges against Muncie man accused of resisting police

Prosecutors recently dropped all charges stemming from the incident against Vernon.

Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour told Call 6 Investigates he plans to make an announcement on a new Muncie police chief sometime next week.