Norman sworn in as new Columbus police chief

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Steve Norman is flanked by his wife Janae, far left, and daughters Lucy, from right, Kat and Sierra as Columbus Mayor Mary Ferdon, in pink, swears him in as the new chief of police of the Columbus Police Department at Columbus City Hall in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Columbus police officers and Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies filled the Cal Brand Meeting Room on Tuesday to see new Columbus Police Chief Steve Norman take his oath of office.

Norman appointed Matt Martindale as the deputy chief and has since appointed the rest of his administrative staff.

Norman is a 29-year veteran of the department, beginning as a patrolman in 1994 and serving in a variety of supervisory leadership roles including a narcotics detective, public information officer, uniform lieutenant, uniform captain and deputy chief during the past 25 years.

Norman is a 1992 graduate of Ball State University with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and criminology. He is a lifelong resident of Bartholomew County and was joined at the swearing in by his wife, Janae, and their three children.

“This means a lot to me that I have this support. We’re going to do really good things with the Columbus Police Department and our friends from the sheriff’s department,” Norman said. “We all work together well to keep this community and Bartholomew County as safe as we can, so thank you.”

Norman spent the last four years as deputy chief to former Chief Mike Richardson, who attended and is becoming the city’s first Director of Security and Risk beginning June 3.

The Columbus police chief oversees daily activities of 85 police officers and multiple support staff in the department. The chief also collaborates with the mayor, Columbus City Council, Board of Public Works and Safety, city departments and a range of public and private organizations and citizen groups.

Deputy Chief Martindale was joined by his wife, Anastasia, as he took his oath of office.

Martindale is a graduate of Indiana University, where he obtained his law enforcement certification while working for the Indiana University Police Department. He started with the Columbus Police Department as a patrolman in 2014. While in the Uniform Division, he served as a DARE officer, field training officer, and an explosive ordinance disposal technician for the bomb squad. In 2018, Martindale was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division as a detective and was promoted to detective sergeant a year later, where he served until being appointed as deputy chief.

Toby Combest has served as the uniform captain for three years and will continue in his role overseeing the Uniform Division. Combest is a graduate of Columbus North High school and started with the Columbus Police Department in 2008. While serving in the Uniform Division, Combest was a field training and SWAT officer. He was promoted to uniform sergeant and was later assigned to the Community Oriented Policing Unit, then the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team. Combest then was promoted to detective lieutenant before his appointment to uniform captain.

Brian Wilder has been appointed as the administrative captain overseeing the Criminal Investigations Division, Intelligence Led Policing Unit, and the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team. Wilder has an associate’s degree from Ivy Tech in computer programming. He started with Columbus Police Department as a patrolman in 2001. In his time with the police department, he has held several positions, including field training officer, negotiator, bicycle officer, cultural liaison officer, patrol sergeant, and detective. Wilder has previously served as the administrative captain, as well.

Lt. Matt Harris has been selected to fill the newly-created position of administrative lieutenant directly overseeing the property room manager, the accreditation manager, and the Records Division. Harris is a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana and started with the Columbus Police Department in 2001. Starting as a patrolman, Harris was a DARE officer, a SWAT officer, and field training officer. Harris was then promoted to uniform sergeant. Harris served as the department’s public relations officer for nearly 10 years and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2016.

Sgt. Skylar Berry has been selected as the public relations officer. He is a graduate of Columbus North High School and Indiana University. Berry worked as a part-time officer for the Indiana University Police Department, where he obtained his certification to be a law enforcement officer. He started with the Columbus Police Department as a patrolman in 2016. In 2019 he was selected to be a detective for the Criminal Investigations Division until being reassigned to the Intelligence Led Policing Unit. In 2023, Berry was promoted to uniform sergeant where he served until his appointment to public relations officer.