The situation in Ferguson is by no means at an end, but there has been progress made at the state’s highest level. Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the Missouri State Highway Patrol will handle all policing matters in the troubled city, and already improvements have been reported.
The announcement came after the past few days of intense standoffs with citizens and the overwhelmed police force after a brief moment of riots in the area. Gov. Nixon has handed over the reigns of security in Ferguson to Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, a Black man who has been with the Patrol for the past 27 years. Johnson, a native of nearby St. Louis, has seemingly has brought calm to the region and promises a much lighter touch than what’s occurred thus far.
“We are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we’re in this together,” Johnson said reporters Thursday. “I understand the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling, and our officers will respect both of those.”
Capt. Johnson, now 51, made his rank in 2002 and oversees Troop C, which covers St. Louis County and 10 others in the state. Across social media, the appointment of Capt. Johnson has been met largely with approval. There is also the matter of Ferguson being a predominantly Black city and Capt. Johnson’s presence might have a calming effect.
Capt. Johnson has also taken to the streets and marched with the protesters hand in hand, according to accounts from those on the ground. There are several outlets that have taken photos of Capt. Johnson addressing crowds, posting them on their Twitter feeds.