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‘A more compassionate’ police force to secure Ferguson, Highway Patrol takes over (AUDIO)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the state Highway Patrol to take over security in Ferguson, relieving what he calls a “stressed” St. Louis Co. Police Department from its duties there. Four nights of unrest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday have erupted in chaos, with angry crowds being fired on with […]

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the state Highway Patrol to take over security in Ferguson, relieving what he calls a “stressed” St. Louis Co. Police Department from its duties there.

Capt. Ron Johnson, Missouri Highway Patrol Troop C, will now be commanding officer overseeing security operations in Ferguson.

Capt. Ron Johnson, Missouri Highway Patrol Troop C, will now be commanding officer overseeing security operations in Ferguson.

Four nights of unrest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday have erupted in chaos, with angry crowds being fired on with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Nixon said that Ferguson in recent days looked “a little more like a war zone, and that’s unacceptable.”

Head of the Highway Patrol’s Troop C, Capt. Ron Johnson, has been put in command of the operations

“I understand the anger and fear the residents of Ferguson are feeling, and our police officers will respect both of them,” he said, noting that he was born and raised in North County, and has a personal connection to the turmoil the community is experiencing.

Johnson wouldn’t describe tactical operations planned for tonight and the coming days, but said armored trucks and heavily armed officers would not be the overbearing presence on the scene. However, he says those resources will be on standby should it become clear the situation is again escalating out of control.

“Put it this way,” he said. “I have instructed my officers to remove their tear gas masks from their belts.”

Local police would still be involved in patrols, but he said that the Highway Patrol will be in charge. He said that he hoped the change would “provide a breathing space” to address bigger problems.

 Nixon also spoke about racial tension between white cops and black residents that has been an ongoing problem.

“These are deep and existing problems, not only in Missouri, but in America, and this has clearly touched a nerve,” he said.

AUDIO: Gov. Nixon and Capt. Johnson field questions from the press. (20 minutes)

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Written by Jessica Machetta

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