Carmel police chief resigned because of failure to follow policy in handling complaint, sources say

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Former Carmel Police Dept. Chief Jeff Horner resigned from his position because he failed to follow city policy in handling at least one of the complaints against his former deputy chief, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation that spoke under the condition of anonymity.

Mayor Jim Brainard accepted Horner’s resignation July 25, five days after the city announced that Deputy Chief Joe Bickel had been removed from his position for allegedly groping a female employee and other inappropriate behaviors. Horner, who has worked for CPD for nearly 30 years, recommended that the Carmel Police Merit Board dismiss Bickel.

According to a city press release, Brainard immediately ordered an external investigation upon learning of the allegations. Brainard declined to provide additional comment beyond the press release.

Horner and other CPD officials did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

CPD policy outlines progressive discipline procedures to be used “when circumstances permit.” Progressive discipline includes training, professional development, written reprimand, suspension, demotion and discharge, with the final step a decision by the police merit board.

Horner has reverted to his merit role as a lieutenant with CPD. He became chief in January and announced the appointment of Bickel as deputy chief of administration – a position held by Horner at the time – weeks before Horner officially became CPD’s leader. Both Bickel and Horner joined CPD in 1994.

Jim Barlow, who served as CPD chief from 2017 until January, has returned from retirement to serve as CPD chief until a new leader is named.

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