ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon removed the St. Louis County Police Department from Ferguson command and handed reigns over to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the governor announced Thursday.
Nixon said Captain Ron Johnson, of the Missouri Highway Patrol will be in charge. St. Louis County officers will still help, but will not be the leading agency.
"I grew up here, this is my community and my home, therefore it means a lot to me personally that we break the cycle of violence, ease the tension, and build trust, showing the utmost respect for every interaction with every citizen," Johnson said. "Moving forward, I'm confident that the patrol and police resources present will do just that. We are here to serve you. I understand the anger and fear the citizens of Ferguson are feeling and our police officers will respect both of those."
"What's gone on here over the past few days is not what Ferguson is about. This is a place where people work, go to church, go to school, and raise their families. It's a diverse community, a Missouri community. Lately its looked like a war zone and that is unacceptable," Nixon said.
While speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon, Senator Claire McCaskill said the militarization of police escalated the problem in Ferguson. She said she hopes to move out the militarization and get back to keeping the protesters safe.
McCaskill noted that police have equipment that makes it look like the people protesting are in the wrong, which creates more tension.
McCaskill said she wished the police officers would take the time to talk to the demonstrators to create trust.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said he wants everyone to be safe while exercising their rights. He said he will work with protesters to keep them safe by coning off areas for them to protest, helping keep them out of the streets. Jackson also mentioned he would bring in portable toilets for protesters to use.
News 4 saw a Missouri Highway Patrol mobile command center and a Missouri State helicopter, near the St. Louis County command post.
Capt Johnson says he plans to go out to the QT and talk the folks who are there. Promises a different approach. Says will reassess.— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Dooley says this ought not to be a black and white thing. Says he'll get a "blue ribbon" committee to talk about #ferguson.— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Capt Johnson says he prayed last night. Believes it's going to "be a different day for our community".— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Gov Nixon: I think the key to this is get control, let voices be heard, make sure we protect property...showing less force on the front side— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Gov: these are deep and existing problems not just in MO, but in America. And this has clearly touched a nerve.— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Gov Nixon asked about if there is a "plan b" if this "kinder, gentler" approach leads to violence/looting. Gov:there are plenty of resources— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014
Gov Nixon asked about specifics on how to go about healing old wounds. Gov says he's focused on immediate operations, getting out info.— Diana Zoga KMOV (@DIANAZOGA) August 14, 2014