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Solon Springs grad joins SPD

Superior Police Officer Ashley Johnson, second from right, smiles at her parents, Diana and Clifford, as they pin her badge on the new officer following a swearing-in ceremony Friday, Jan. 25 in the Government Center. At left, Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander looks on. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com)1 / 2
Leela Hugdahl, 3, seated on her father Casey Hugdahl's lap, reaches out to touch the shoulder patch of her aunt, Superior Police Officer Ashley Johnson, prior to Johnson's swearing-in ceremony. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com) 2 / 2

The Superior Police Department's newest officer was sworn in Friday, Jan. 25, at the Government Center.

Ashley Johnson graduated at the top of her class from Solon Springs High School and earned a nursing diploma with honors in from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College of Rice Lake. But she had a different calling.

"Nursing is something that I know I would have been good at. I love to help people and I love the medical aspect of that, but it just didn't feel right," Johnson said. "This is the career for me that fit, it felt right and I'm a lot happier doing this."

Johnson went on to earn a degree in criminal justice and has already completed basic recruit school. She started her orientation with the department Monday, Jan. 28, and is expected to enter the field officer training program within a few days.

"This was the department I wanted to be on; I couldn't ask for better," Johnson said. "I'm excited I get to stay close to home. I get to work with a great department with great people."

The job comes with risk. Nationwide, 150 police officers lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018. This month, an officer in Duluth was shot and injured.

"Fortunately he did survive his injuries, but a K9 died as a result of that," the chief said.

Johnson's cheerful, contagious personality, her leadership and empathy for others were some of the characteristics that stood out to Alexander during the background process.

"I think right now the community relations between the public and police sometimes are shaky," Johnson said. "I think that I'm a pretty happy person. I try my best. I like people. I think I could help with those relations, working toward just better police-public relations."