Gov. Jay Nixon today signed an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard to support law enforcement during any period of unrest that might occur following the grand jury’s decision concerning the investigation into the death of Michael Brown. The Governor said the Guard will provide support for law enforcement’s objectives of maintaining safety and protecting constitutional rights.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury’s decision,” Gov. Nixon said. “These additional resources will support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech. The National Guard is well-suited to provide security at command posts, fire stations and other locations as well as perform other functions that will free up law enforcement officers to remain focused on community policing and protecting constitutional rights.”
Gov. Nixon’s executive order also establishes that the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will operate as a unified command to keep members of the public safe and protect property, while allowing citizens to exercise their constitutional rights. Under the executive order, the St. Louis County Police Department will have command and operational control over security in the City of Ferguson in areas of protests and acts of civil disobedience, should such activities occur.
“All people in the St. Louis region deserve to feel safe in their communities and to make their voices heard without fear of violence or intimidation,” said Gov. Nixon. “Public safety demands that we are fully prepared for any contingency, regardless of what the St. Louis County grand jury or the U.S. Department of Justice decides.”
The St. Louis County prosecutor has said publicly that an announcement of the grand jury’s decision will be made later this month. The United States Department of Justice, which is conducting both civil and criminal investigations of the death of Michael Brown, has not announced when its investigations will be concluded.
“Our department, like other police departments in the region, has a full time job keeping our neighborhoods safe. We are used to working with other agencies in times of necessity,” said St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson. “Having the support of the National Guard available will enable local officers to continue to respond promptly to calls for service.”
“We have taken tremendous strides over the past three months, as our officers have undergone thousands of hours of additional training and reached out to build strong relationships across the community,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. “These additional resources will enhance our ability to achieve our key responsibilities: keeping the public safe, protecting property and enabling people to exercise their constitutional rights.”
Requests from local law enforcement for duties to be performed by the Guard will be handled through the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
“These past three months have been challenging for our community but we have come together in many measurable ways,” said Captain Ron Johnson, commander of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C. “The power of communication within the community has allowed us to take steps toward peaceful change that demonstrate the true character of North County. The availability of the National Guard will ensure that law enforcement has the resources to protect three things vital to our community: public safety, property and the constitutional rights of all.”
The Missouri National Guard has been deployed a total of 32 times since 2001 to assist local communities with emergency preparedness and response, from shoring up levees during floods to providing security following the Joplin tornado. The Guard will be commanded by Brigadier General Gregory Mason, a retired 30-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The Governor’s executive order is available here.