Meet the Cop Who's Helping Ferguson Heal

PHOTO: Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol speaks during a news conference as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon listens during news conference on Aug. 14, 2014, in St. Louis.

The head of the Missouri Highway Patrol who was put in charge of the volatile situation in Ferguson is garnering accolades for being the cool-headed voice of reason in a time of tumult.

Captain Ron Johnson was given the task on Thursday afternoon of maintaining safety as the city headed into its fifth day of protests following the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Johnson was seen marching among the protesters Thursday evening, listening to them air their grievances, and even hugging one of the women who came out to demonstrate.

"I think yesterday we handled it just right," he said at a news conference today alongside Gov. Jay Nixon and other members of law enforcement.

"What happened last night is what is going to happen here forward. ... You're going to see a bunch of smiles a bunch of hugs," Johnson said.

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Johnson's personal approach -- which included him telling how his daughter relayed a story from the Bible to him in an effort to encourage him during protests -- appears to be well-received by residents.

PHOTO: Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol hugs Angela Whitman, of Berkeley, Mo., on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 14, 2014.
David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Photo
PHOTO: Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol hugs Angela Whitman, of Berkeley, Mo., on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 14, 2014.

Even at today's news conference, Johnson made a point to focus on the residents of Ferguson in the crowd rather than reporters -- delaying the news conference as he called for all of the residents to come and sit in front of the crew of reporters.

"It is about the people who live in our community," Johnson said.

Part of his connection to the residents comes from the fact that he is their neighbor: Johnson and his family live in Florissant, the town directly next to Ferguson.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Johnson was born and raised in the area. He has served on the Highway Patrol for the past 26 years -- 12 of which he was a commanding officer -- and has a family history in law enforcement as his father-in-law was the St. Louis deputy police chief.

"You couldn’t have a better partner for the region. He’s smart, he’s professional, he comes from the area," St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said of Johnson to the paper.

PHOTO: Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol smiles at demonstrators march along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 14, 2014.
David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Photo
PHOTO: Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol smiles at demonstrators march along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 14, 2014.

At today's news conference, Johnson engaged with the crowd, hearing them out and when he had to wrap it up, he ended by saying that they can carry on their conversation later when he will be talking with people at the QuikTrip convenience store.

"I agree that this is not a black and white issue because we all have sons and daughters," he said.

"I promise that we're going to communicate better and we're going to give answers to their needs."

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