Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard on Monday afternoon.
According to a news release, the role of the National Guard is 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.”
“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,” Nixon said in the release.
Nixon’s order also established 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,” Nixon said in the release.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said publicly that an announcement of the grand jury’s decision will be made later this month.
The U.S. 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 in the release. “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 in the release. “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.”
“These past three months have been challenging for our community but we have come together in many measurable ways,” said Capt. Ron Johnson, commander of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C, in the release. “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.”
At a news conference Monday afternoon, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay supported Nixon’s decision to activate the National Guard and explained that members of the Guard will not be on the front lines of any protests – St. Louis police will serve in that role.
Slay also advised St. Louis residents to “go about business as usual,” and said that he doesn’t know when the grand jury’s decision will be announced.
The grand jury has been hearing evidence related to the shooting death of Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The Aug. 9 shooting of Brown sparked weeks on unrest in Ferguson, as well as nationwide protests.