Muncie Police Department to put more officers on the roads

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MUNCIE, Ind.– Some big changes are coming up for the Muncie Police Department. Newly appointed Chief Joe Winkle said starting this weekend, you’ll see more officers on the roads.

Winkle was appointed chief in November by Mayor Dennis Tyler, after former Chief Steve Stewart suddenly resigned.

Winkle said the focus right now, is the department’s uniform division. Thirty-one officers on the force have less than five years experience and 13 officers have less than one year.

After struggling to find, hire, and retain quality officers, the department is now fully staffed. Winkle said the level of experience and need for more training is concerning.

“That’s a lot of people to have less than a year on and to try to train,” said Winkle. “We’re concerned about the training. Our field training officers, we just put 15 patrolmen through a two-and-a-half day course and we’re going to really focus on our training for the next six months or so.”

Nine veteran officers in the investigations division will help out with road patrols. Winkle said he’s hoping their experience will help newer officers with real-world experience. There will also be two officers in nearly every car, something Winkle said is important for safety.

“We’ve gotten away from two-man cars. Part of that’s due to our manpower. I think it’s a safety issue. I’m a big two-man car believer.”

Starting this summer, Winkle plans to roll out a new unit for crime, one the department hasn’t seen since Winkle previously served as chief from 1996 to 2008.

“Our plan is to re-create something we did 22 years ago which was the violent crimes unit. That unit will handle homicide, shootings, and also drug work.”

Winkle said he’s working on a six-month plan. They’ll work to reevaluate shifts and schedules and see what else is needed this summer.

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