Stock photo courtesy of Gov's office.
State and local law enforcement agencies will operate as a unified command; “Violence will not be tolerated,” Gov. Nixon says"
WELDON SPRING, Mo. – More than 1,000 law enforcement officers have received additional training to protect the public in advance of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, Gov. Jay Nixon announced today.
The Governor joined state and local law enforcement officials at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C headquarters in Weldon Spring to discuss the coordinated efforts underway to protect the public, while ensuring peaceful demonstrators can exercise their constitutional rights.
“As Governor, the most important part of my job is keeping the people of Missouri safe,” Gov. Nixon said. “That is why we have been working around the clock to prepare to keep residents and businesses of the St. Louis region safe – regardless of the outcome of the parallel local and federal investigations.”
Officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police will operate as a unified command to protect the public. Among the actions taken by unified command agencies to date:
- More than 1,000 law enforcement officers have received a total of more than 5,000 hours of additional training;
- Law enforcement planning efforts have included coordination with fire and EMS services; and
- The Department of Public Safety has distributed additional communications equipment to ensure seamless communication between agencies.
The Governor also announced that the Missouri National Guard has been and will continue to be part of the contingency planning process.
“The Guard will be available when we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement,” Gov. Nixon said. “We must and we will be prepared.”
“The St. Louis community should be confident that we in law enforcement are determined to protect and serve all citizens, including demonstrators,” said Chief Sam Dotson of the St. Louis Police Metropolitan Department. “While everyone is welcome to have their voices heard, putting the lives of other citizens or police officers at risk will not be tolerated.”
“The leaders of the agencies in the unified command are focused on the preservation of life, the protection of property and ensuring that all peaceful demonstrators can exercise their free speech rights,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. “We also want the public to know that we are fully committed to preventing law breakers from threatening public safety.”
“Measurable conversations and changes are taking place within our community involving people who are reflective of the diversity that must exist to truly achieve outcomes that benefit all,” said Captain Ron Johnson, commander of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C. “Violence and destruction will not define us. Instead, it is the voice of change – which can be heard because of the First Amendment – that will define the true character of our region. We will protect the people’s voice of change and ensure the safety of all.”
“This coordinated effort will be guided by the core principles of keeping the public safe, while allowing people to speak,” the Governor said. “People have a right to express their views and grievances. But they do not have a right to put their fellow citizens at risk. As I’ve said before, violence will not be tolerated.”
Over the last three months, the Governor has advanced a series of initiatives designed to strengthen communities and address the underlying issues exposed by events in Ferguson.
Missouri’s new Office of Community Engagement, led by former state Senator Maida Coleman, has been gathering input and developing strategies to address the challenges facing low-income and minority communities.
A summer jobs program will connect 2,000 young people from low-income families in the St. Louis region with high-impact summer employment next year.
The Governor is assembling the Ferguson Commission, which will be tasked with studying root causes and making actionable recommendations for addressing them.
With support from the State of Missouri, a coalition of public and private organizations and businesses provided $1 million in zero-interest loans to businesses affected by the civil unrest.