7 Things to Know About the New Guy Running Things in Ferguson

First things first, Capt. Ronald S. Johnson told officers to take off their gas masks.

Capt. Ronald Johnson walks among demonstrators gathered along West Florissant Avenue Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. 
Capt. Ronald Johnson walks among demonstrators gathered along West Florissant Avenue Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.  Scott Olson/Getty Images

When Missouri’s governor announced that a new person would be brought in to take over the security operations in Ferguson, the community and national observers alike breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed as if no one—or at least not anyone competent and in control—was managing the uprising over the shooting of Michael Brown.

When Capt. Ronald S. Johnson came in front of the bright lights on Thursday evening to give his first press conference, critics of the investigation were once again assuaged. Johnson is an African-American man, unlike 94 percent of Ferguson’s police force. Also, he has managerial experience in law enforcement: He’s the captain of a sizable portion of Missouri’s Highway Patrol unit.

Plus, Johnson already feels a certain way about how Ferguson’s law enforcement has conducted itself in response to the protesting.

Here are some notable things about Johnson, culled from a few online sources, but primarily from this Washington Post report.  

1. He’s sympathetic to the concerns of critics.

It’s likely that Johnson’s identity, both as an African American and as a man, will influence his ability to empathize with those hurting in Ferguson, particularly the way in which protesters and journalists have been treated. That he might be able to relate to Michael Brown—the unarmed African-American victim at the center of this uprising—even in the slightest way, is also noteworthy.  

During a brief press conference on Thursday, Johnson assured the community that he’s heard their concerns and he understands “the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling.” He’s also planning to implement a “different approach,” he told reporters, one that conveys the message that law enforcement and the citizens of Ferguson are “in this together.”

2. He put a stop to the tear gas used against protesters.

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