Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler named Joe Winkle the new police chief of the city of Muncie on Nov. 18. Winkle will replace former Police Chief Steve Stewart. Andrew Smith // DN
Former Muncie police chief returns to position
Mayor Dennis Tyler announced at a press conference Nov. 18 that Joe Winkle will be replacing Steve Stewart as Muncie’s police chief.
On Nov. 15, Winkle sat down with Tyler and solidified the position, he said.
After speaking with Tyler about the police department and its direction, Winkle will be leaving his position as the director of the Delaware County Emergency Communications Center.
“This appointment will take effect upon Joe’s official resignation as current director for the Emergency Operations Center at 911 and the appointment of the new director,” Tyler said. "Until that time, Deputy Chief Mark Vollmar will continue to oversee the day to day operations of our Muncie Police Department."
Winkle was sworn in as Muncie's police chief in 1996 and served until he retired in 2008. He then went on to serve as the director of the Delaware County Emergency Communications Center.
Winkle had previously served as merit sergeant in both investigative and uniform divisions for MPD before serving as chief.
“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to come home and that’s what it feels like. I’ve been gone for about five years and I’ve never really left in my heart,” Winkle said. "I always felt like I was still a police officer and I never dreamed this opportunity would come up, in fact I dismissed and got rid of all my uniforms and equipment, so I’ll be starting over from that standpoint."
Winkle said he is more mature than when he previously served, and he thinks he now has a better handle on the community aspect of his position. By building relationships, he hopes to overcome the obstacles that have come from recent events around the country.
“Before, I was a policeman that just happened to be the chief. Now, I plan on being a leader that deals in the community and I’ll let everybody else do the policing. I still believe in aggressive policing, but I think that you’ve go to treat everybody with respect, and that’s going to be my message to everybody," Winkle said. “I want you to police, but I want you to do it in the right way.”
Winkle said he expects his biggest problem to be the age of the officers he will oversee.
“The biggest issue in my mind is how young we are. There’s almost 30 people with less than four and a half, five years [of experience]," Winkle said. "I’m worried about the training they’re getting, I’m concerned about how we’re going to overcome that. We’ll figure it out, but that’s our key focus right now is getting these new people up to speed and teaching them how to do this job correctly."
Winkle said he will be paid a salary in his position as police chief, as well as a pension from his previous retirement as a police officer.
Winkle and Tyler were joined at the conference by members of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department, MPD and Winkle's friends and family.
“The support I’ve gotten in the last couple days is very humbling and I see a lot of policemen here and I hope you realize that I’ll do everything I can to keep this place moving forward,” Winkle said. " I expect to use a lot of you and I anticipate using most of you to help me guide this place over the next few years."