VPD Officer Suspended

Ben Hammond, left, and his wife, Kristi Hammond, have been arrested on charges of neglect of a dependent and criminal confinement regarding Kristi Hammond's son. She is also facing a charge of battery on a person less than 14 years of age. Ben Hammond, a Vincennes Police officer, has been suspended without pay.

A Vincennes police officer has been suspended without pay after being arrested Saturday on charges of neglect of a dependent and criminal confinement.

City officials Monday afternoon said, effective retroactively to Nov. 1, Officer Robert “Ben” Hammond had been suspended pending the felony charges filed by the Indiana State Police over the weekend.

The Police Merit Board will meet in executive session Thursday to discuss the disciplinary measure further.

Hammond and his wife, Kristi Hammond, of Wheatland, were arrested on Saturday and both charged with neglect of a dependent and criminal confinement.

Kristi Hammond was also charged with battery on a person less than 14 years of age.

The probable cause affidavit filed in Knox County Superior Court I indicates the investigation — particularly in how the couple was disciplining Kristi's young son — began back in June.

The couple was visited by a case manager with the Pike County Department of Child Services and two ISP troopers after the child's biological father filed a complaint.

Kristi Hammond admitted to hitting the child, both in the face and on the bottom, with a wooden spoon, causing bruises that were photographed and submitted to prosecutors, according to court documents.

The victim, too, told police that the couple had repeatedly used duct tape to secure him to his bed and that they had locked him in his bedroom. He also said they had used duct tape on his mouth to keep him quiet.

There were allegations, too, that the couple had locked the child outside on the back porch at night. Because he banged on the windows, they allegedly used duct tape to pin his arms to his sides and forced him to sleep in a sleeping bag on the porch.

Ben Hammond has been with the VPD since April 2007.

His arrest comes on the heels of former chief Dusty Luking's retirement amid an FBI investigation.

Mayor Joe Yochum announced Luking's retirement last month; he'd been with the VPD for 23 years.

Armed with a search warrant, officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation descended onto VPD headquarters at 501 Busseron St. in early August; it was the first city officials had learned of any ongoing investigation, the mayor had said, and Luking was placed on administrative leave that same day.

An attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Southern Indiana District in Indianapolis said at the time that she would not be commenting on the investigation.

Luking himself has not returned phone calls or text messages seeking additional information.

Assistant chief Terry Johnson is serving as interim chief with Sgt. Jon McKinnon assisting with day-to-day operations.

Yochum said he's getting close to making a permanent selection and hopes to make an announcement sometime in the next couple of weeks.

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