Columbus native joins SPD

About a month after a shooting inside Greenwood Park Mall in the summer of 2022, Sabastian Johnson was walking through the mall when a man with his hood up and a mask over his face went by him.

He thought that was a really weird thing to do in the mall.

As Johnson continued to walk, he heard a gun magazine fall on the ground and shatter into pieces. He and another man alerted security.

“I got this investigative urge. … I kind of got this like rushed high of ‘I know what the guy looked like, saw stuff drop, know which way they went,’” he said. “Just being able to provide that information to the police officers, it felt good, and I think that slowly started to spark being a police officer. In my head, that was the turning point where I’m like, ‘This is something I might want to do’ because it felt nice to be helpful in a situation like that.”

Fast forward a few months, his wife, Brittany Johnson, saw a Facebook post about the Seymour Police Department going through the process of hiring officers.

“She’s like, ‘I think this is something you’d be really good at,’ and I’m like, ‘Eh, whatever,’” Johnson said. “I had a couple other people in my life that their opinions I value, and they are like, ‘This is something you should do,’ so I’m like, ‘OK.’”

At the time, the Johnsons were living in Seymour, and Sabastian was working for a garage door company in his hometown of Columbus. While he said he was making good money, he didn’t have benefits, so he decided to put in his application with SPD.

He passed the physical agility test, written test and interview, and the process continued over several months.

“Every time I’d get that phone call and they would be like, ‘Hey, you’re moving up to the next spot,’ it was a relief and it felt really good, especially since when I tried out, almost everybody that I tried out with had some sort of experience, whether they were doing ridealongs or were familiar with law enforcement or dispatch or jailer,” Johnson said. “I had nothing, so from the get-go, I was like, ‘Eh, they are not going to pick me.’”

During the last call, Johnson was given a hire date and was asked when he wanted to be sworn in. The latter occurred May 19 in the council chambers at Seymour City Hall.

While he was nervous meeting Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson for the first time and seeing Chief Greg O’Brien and Assistant Chief John Watson there, Johnson realized how big of a deal this opportunity was for him.

“Swearing in and being handed that badge, that was like the icing on the cake, for sure,” the 30-year-old said.

His wife, kids and other family members being there made it even more special. Brittany held the Bible during the swearing-in ceremony.

“My dad was in the Navy, so I grew up with that household where you have the certain values and manners, so I’ve always had the mentality that would work well if I became an officer,” Johnson said. “It felt even nicer to know that there were people in my family that were excited I was doing it.”

While some people view police in a negative light, Johnson said he wants to be a good image for young cops.

“We want to be fair, and we want to be in public service,” he said. “There are a couple of officers at the police department that are what I like to call people officers, where the people in Seymour love them. They really do. Every day they go to work, they do what they have to as an officer and they follow the law, they enforce the law, but they are also like the people person. It’s people like that that make you want to be a good officer.”

Johnson has lived in Seymour for six years after having graduated from Columbus East High School in 2011 and working various jobs, including construction, landscaping and the garage door company.

He said he is still getting familiar with the city, but in his new job, it won’t take long to learn all of the corners and people of Seymour.

“Seymour has that small town vibe, and I really like that about Seymour,” he said.

Johnson completed ridealongs and now is with field training officers at SPD, and later this year, he hopes to go up to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.

“I want to be that people officer,” he said. “It’s just being a respectful officer that people are going to be excited to see and look forward to being around.”

Johnson file 

Name: Sabastian Johnson

Age: 30

Hometown: Columbus

Residence: Seymour

Education: Columbus East High School (2011)

Occupation: Recently hired as an officer with the Seymour Police Department

Family: Wife and kids