BICKNELL — A handful of residents expressed concern last week to city council members about current turmoil within the city's police department, according to Mayor Thomas Estabrook.
And a solution is coming, he said.
“We're continuing to work toward an agreement,” he said. “I know people want details, but the reality is, I don't have solid details to give them because agreement negotiations are ever-changing.”
Bicknell currently has just two two police officers, half the number the police department once had. Deputies with the Knox County Sheriff's Department are supplementing patrols, Estabrook said, mainly at night.
The city's two full-time officers are alternating days, shifts of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. specifically, Estabrook said.
County deputies then help out in the overnight hours, and Sheriff Doug Vantlin, too, said he would call upon the department's 15 reserve officers to help if needed.
Estabrook said he and Vantlin are still negotiation a deal that could make this arrangement permanent.
“I had hoped to have an agreement (by the time the council met),” Estabrook said, “but we weren't able to do that. We're working on the dollars, and I think we're almost there on that. We've made some pretty big steps.
“The process is continuing, and I hope to have answers soon.”
In April Bicknell Police Chief Terry Stremming was arrested on preliminary charges of misconduct.
Indiana State Police officers say a Bicknell police officer — who wasn't identified — went to the prosecutor's office to hand over a laptop computer that possibly contained evidence of officer misconduct on the part of another, also unnamed, Bicknell officer.
Stremming subsequently went to the prosecutor's office and allegedly got into a physical altercation with an investigator there when she refused to give the laptop back.
Stremming was then arrested for misconduct and battery.
The city's Board of Works met in emergency session to officially place him on administrative leave.
Indiana State Police are continuing to investigate the incident, and it will be up to a special prosecutor whether to file official charges.
Stremming was the second officer to be placed on leave in as many years.
More than a year ago, the board placed Lt. Kevin Carroll on unpaid administrative leave after he was arrested by ISP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Violent Crimes Task Force for allegedly sharing information about an undercover drug operation.
He faces charges of official misconduct and criminal recklessness, and his case is still pending in Knox County Superior Court I.
The Bicknell Police Department, per the city's budget, has enough money allocated for six officers, but Estabrook announced last month that he wanted to make a change to the way the city manages law enforcement.