Antonia Turner is following in her father's footsteps

Antonia Turner, Facebook post March 23, 2021: “Growing up I watched you come home from ‘saving the world’ now I am right there with you doing the same thing. Dad you have taught me so much about being a police officer, I look up to you more than you know. I am so blessed and happy to be working in the same department as you. I won’t let you down. I love you so much!”

With a servant’s heart, Springfield High School graduate and Wittenberg University alumna, Antonia Turner began her first shift with the Springfield Police Division (SPD), joining the ranks with her father, SPD Lt. Lou Turner.

Choosing her career path came easily to Antonia; her father marks 29 years with the SPD this year. Antonia grew up listening to the police scanner and serving the community alongside her family by participating in Operation Thanksgiving and providing Christmas gifts to those in need.

“My freshman year of college I worked in the Alumni House on campus,” says Antonia. “I thought, there is no way I can work at a desk just doing the same thing every day, I’m just not that person. After doing a handful of (police) ride-alongs and talking with my dad and my mom about law enforcement and the avenues I could get into made me interested in pursuing this career.”

In 2020, Antonia graduated from Wittenberg with a degree in psychology and sociology with a focus in criminology. She then enrolled in the Clark State College police academy and successfully completed the rigorous academy requirements in January of 2021.

“(I was) leery at first, but it’s your kid and that’s her goal,” says Lou Turner. “She does well.”

Antonia says knowing her father was there for her was a big factor in why she wanted to work hard and succeed in her academy training.

“(It was) mind over matter,” she says. “If you’re coming into this field, work your tail off to hold your own and be strong because you’re going to see a lot of things and hear a lot of things. You have to be strong and be your own person and be ready for what’s to come.”

Lou Turner, originally from Shadyside, Ohio, was encouraged to move to Springfield and join the police division by a friend who assured him that Springfield was “pretty exciting.”

In February 1992, he entered the Clark State police academy and hit the streets in June 1992. Lou served as a street patrolman for eight years and worked all three shifts. He then became a detective in the Drug Unit Narcotics Division for eight years. After four years he was promoted to sergeant, and in 2008 he was promoted to lieutenant. He is now a lieutenant for Investigations.

“We see each other in passing,” he says about Antonia. “She’s in uniform. I’m in investigations.”

Within the first few weeks, Antonia says she learned to handle a lot.

“Paperwork, names, ranks … I was extremely nervous to talk to people,” she says. “I can go up to a random stranger and strike up a conversation, but when you are actually doing your job and knowing what advice to give them, what to ask them in order to fill out a report, I was overwhelmed. But after a few weeks I was able to take a breath. The first month was a big learning curve.”

Antonia plans to remain in Springfield and pursue community-oriented policing.

Looking back at her time in the academy, at how much she’s learned and how far she’s come to take police calls on her own now, Antonia says it’s all very rewarding.

“My senior thesis was on the community resource team,” she says. “I’d like to work with the kids and tell them as a female officer, ‘you can do this too.’ That’s my end goal for when I’m off the streets; I want to work with the community.”

Lou Turner encourages his daughter to take advice from her training officers, decide what works best for her and to always treat people with respect.

“I really meant it when I said I respect him a lot more than he knows,” says Antonia. “He’s my dad. That’s how I view him. So when people treat him respectfully, and I hear the good things he’s done … I want to be that person, too. I want to be like him. I look at what he’s done, and I want to emulate that.”

Taking the family tradition one step further and following in the footsteps of her father and older sister is Annmeri Turner.

Annmeri says she figured out while in high school that pursuing a career in law enforcement would be something she would enjoy and allow her to make an impact on the community she grew up in.

“We grew up listening to dad’s police scanner in the evenings and it always interested me,” Annmeri says. “Dad and mom both have always encouraged us to do what we were passionate about.

“Almost every time dad left the house to go to work, he would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m just going to go off and save the world.’ It was always a joke, but it was one that when you think about it, he was willing to go to work every day not knowing what would happen that day. That is something every law enforcement officer does, but being able to say my dad did it was always cool.” 

Annmeri is on track to graduate from Wittenberg next spring with a degree in sociology with a focus on criminology. She plans to attend the police academy and enter law enforcement soon after.

“It’s a dangerous profession – you want your kids to have a safe job and not one where every call could potentially be dangerous,” says Lou Turner. “I pray for (Antonia) and every other officer to come home safe every night and every day. I have to put my faith in there; that it’s going to be taken care of.”

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.