The command center where the National Guard, Highway Patrol and local police coordinated efforts in Ferguson for much of the past two weeks has been taken down.
The command center was established while protests, some that became violent, continued night after night after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
After a series of nights without outbreaks of violence, Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson says it was clear a scale back could occur.
He told reporters on Wednesday, “Yesterday and last night there was one arrest, for carrying a concealed weapon. That was not related to the protesters. Friday night there were zero arrests, Saturday night there were six arrests, Sunday it was zero, Monday night it was zero, and as I said, there was only one arrest last night.”
Johnson added, “Again last night officers serving in the unified command deployed no tear gas, no smoke devices, no mace, and again no police officer fired a single bullet.”
Johnson was placed in command of security in Ferguson as Governor Jay Nixon (D), amid criticism, was attempting to ease tensions, and that seems to have happened.
“Early in the response to Ferguson there was tension between law enforcement and some of the protesters,” says Johnson. “I think all of you who have been in Ferguson the last several days have noticed a positive change toward relationship building.”
Johnson believes the tension is easing across the region.
“Change started because we in law enforcement are listening. It is hard to listen when people are shouting. It’s hard for children to learn when schools are closed. It’s hard to keep a business running when they’re being looted. Those are things that are not happening in Ferguson because people are communicating with one another.”
Johnson says a unified command does continue, but the Guard has withdrawn and St. Louis City Police are back on their normal turf.