WELDON SPRINGS, Mo. — Flanked by law enforcement officials from around the region, Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters today that county and city departments would be partnering with Missouri Highway Patrol to form a “unified command” in preparation for potential public demonstrations once the grand jury reaches a decision on whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has repeatedly said that a decision on whether or not to indict Wilson — who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in early August, sparking a wave of protests in the region that continue — would come from the grand jury in mid- to late November.
“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.”
Nixon said while he and law enforcement officials around the state remain optimistic that violence is not a certainty if Wilson is acquitted, they have an obligation to prepare for the worst. Officers in the area have been given additional training on dealing with “constitutional issues” like protestors, Nixon said.
Nixon said the Missouri National Guard would be on standby and ready to assist local law enforcement if needed, but that they were not currently deployed.
Nixon’s “unified command” consists of Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson.
The Democratic governor provided only minimal details on what police response would be to large-scale demonstrations, which protestors have promised for months if Wilson is not charged with a crime.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.