ST. LOUIS (CN) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday and activated the National Guard in anticipation of the grand jury decision on the Ferguson shooting investigation.
Citing “the possibility of expanded unrest,” Nixon issued an executive order good for 30 days.
The order establishes a unified law enforcement command consisting of St. Louis County Police, the St. Louis Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters that the National Guard would be used in a secondary role to civilian police and would not be in a position to confront protesters.
Slay said he didn’t know how many troops would be dispatched, but expected them by the end of the week.
Nixon’s order came as the region awaited the grand jury’s decision.
After the order was released, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said, as he has said before, that he expects a decision in mid to late November.
“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,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said in a statement.
Nixon’s order to activate the National Guard was expected.
The governor last week joined Belmar and other law enforcement leaders to discuss plans to maintain peace once the indictment decision was reached. Deploying the National Guard was discussed then.
Tensions are running high as the public await whether a St. Louis County grand jury will indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, on Aug. 9.
The shooting sparked more than 100 days of protests against perceived racial profiling and excessive force by police. The protests were marked by violence in August and many fear more violence once the grand jury decision is announced.
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