Growing up listening to stories about policing and hearing the police scanner, riding along in the police cruiser, and giving back to the community through the police force enticed Antonia Turner, Wittenberg class of 2020, to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Upon graduating from Wittenberg with degrees in psychology and sociology with a criminology focus, Antonia, from Springfield and a graduate of the Springfield City Schools, recently joined the Springfield Police Division (SPD) as a police officer, serving alongside her father, SPD Lt. Lou Turner.
“I love every minute of this job,” she said. “There has been so much I’ve learned in the last year about myself and about Springfield. There have been a few scenes I’ve been on that have been hard to deal with, but I’ve been able to talk it through with my co-workers, which has helped. I chose this career path early on, and I wouldn’t change it for a second.”
Antonia was sworn in as a patrol officer on Aug. 3, 2020, then attended the police academy at Clark State for five months where she learned the basics of being a police officer. In January 2021, she graduated from the academy and came back to SPD for four months of in-house training and field training. After finishing all of her training in July, she is now on the street for the midnight shift doing regular patrol.
“Growing up with my dad in law enforcement, I’ve always heard stories,” Antonia said. “When I turned 18, I did a ride along with SPD and fell in love with it. Eight hours was enough to get me hooked; I wanted more. I did a few more ride-alongs throughout college, which helped me choose my major. Also having a few other jobs in college, I realized I am not the type of person to sit behind a desk all day. I learned that I wanted a career that was fast-paced and one in which I am able to move. Having my dad by my side the whole time has helped me transition into this career so much easier. I’ve been able to lean on him whenever I need to and he’s also been my backboard when I need to talk.”
Lou Turner, originally from Shadyside, Ohio, attended West Liberty University and was persuaded to move to Springfield to join the police division through a friend. He became a patrolman in 1992 and worked all three shifts throughout his first eight years. He then became a detective in the Drug Unit Narcotics Division for eight years, being promoted to sergeant after the fourth year. In 2008, he was promoted to Lieutenant of Investigations and has been with SPD for 29 years.
“My ultimate goal at SPD is to move up in the ranks and into a detective unit, but also to do the community policing program,” Antonia said. “I’d love to build and make our community policing unit stronger. I believe with everything going on in the world, the need for police to be out and around the community is even more important. I’d love to get more kids interested in pursuing this career, especially girls. Overall if I can change one person’s mind about their view of the police and about women being in this career field, then I know I’ve done something right. Anyone thinking about going into law enforcement - have a positive mindset. Learn to hold your own and be the strongest you can be, mentally and physically. This job demands so much of you, but it also allows you to continue to grow. The support of the law enforcement family is strong and I couldn’t have asked for a better career.”
Antonia added that the blend of her two Wittenberg degrees will help her succeed in the police force.
“Already, it’s helped me learn how to talk and listen to people. Not just to get their information for the paperwork I need, but to actually try and understand where they are coming from,” she said. “Wittenberg University opened my eyes to so many experiences and people throughout my years there. Wittenberg has been home to me and my family for many generations, and I am beyond blessed to have carried on that tradition. Being a police officer in Springfield has allowed me to visit campus and patrol campus on my downtown route. I am grateful to be an alumni member and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Antonia was a member of the cheerleading squad her freshman year, was a 4Paws handler, and participated in various clubs including Young Life and Alpha Xi Delta during her time at Wittenberg.
“At my time at Wittenberg I made so many friends and so many memories. My psychology professors taught me so much about people,” she said. “It has helped me tremendously in this career. And I want to give a big shout out to sociology professor Brooke Wagner. I’ve always felt like I could talk to her about anything.”
And the family tradition is going to continue with Annmeri Turner as well. Antonia’s younger sister plans to graduate in May of 2022 from Wittenberg and follow the same path. Majoring in sociology with a criminology focus and double minors in psychology and exercise science, Annmeri is hoping to join her sister and father on the SPD force.
“I recently started the process to hopefully be hired by the City of Springfield to become a police officer,” said Annmeri, a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and student worker at the Wes Bates Strength Center. “I hope to become an officer after graduation and do so in the city that I grew up in - Springfield. I feel I can give back and make an impact on the community and city that I love and that I've been lucky enough to be around my entire life.
“I grew up listening to my dad's police radio at home. I always thought his job was cool, and I've always looked up to both of my parents,” she continued. “In my sophomore year of high school, I began to think of what I wanted to do in the future. Becoming a police officer stuck with me, and I've pursued that career since. Around the same time, my sister was deciding what to major in here at Wittenberg, and she, too, was aiming in the direction of law enforcement. My entire family has been supportive of my sister’s and my decision to serve our community. After graduation, I hope to be doing what both my dad and sister are doing.”
“I couldn’t be more excited for her to be in this career,” Antonia said. “I know it makes my parents a bit nervous with both of us going into law enforcement, but ultimately both of us can’t think of anything else we could picture ourselves doing. It is a part of who we are.”