Gov. Nixon explains decision of when to deploy National Guard - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Gov. Nixon explains decision of when to deploy National Guard

Gov. Nixon says even with all the violence the night of the grand jury decision announcement, he still thinks he made the right call. Gov. Nixon says even with all the violence the night of the grand jury decision announcement, he still thinks he made the right call.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Some Republican state lawmakers want Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to explain why he didn't deploy more National Guardsmen in Ferguson the night of the grand jury decision.

Gov. Nixon says even with all the violence that night, he still thinks he made the right call.

During a stop in Cape Girardeau, Nixon said he decided to send Guardsmen in behind local and state officers because they already had contact with protesters in the months following Michael Brown's shooting death.

Nixon says the unified command thought that would be better than sending hundreds of uniformed guardsmen straight onto the streets of Ferguson.

"Obviously Monday night, we were somewhat surprised by the amount of violence, not helped by a couple of folks trying to whip that up at various times," Nixon said. "As the night went on, we did bring additional Guardsmen into the police department, there to back up the folks that were there and ended up getting their response teams out in the area."

Nixon says his focus now is to help move the Show-Me State forward and make progress on what he calls very difficult issues.

Read Nixon's full answers to questions by Heartland News below:

Question—Some are questioning how much control you had over the deployment of the National Guard following the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson and the concern that there weren't enough guard members there to prevent property damage. Was it your call?

Nixon—“As the Commander in Chief of the Missouri National Guard, they operate under the order of the Governor through the Adjutant General. Our plan, which we worked out with the unified command, was to have, and we did have, over 700 Guardsmen out there that night guarding locations all throughout the region—power substations, police stations, the command center. We wanted to have the local police—St. Louis County, St. Louis City and others, the Highway Patrol—on the front lines who had been engaging directly with many of those folks throughout the Summer. We thought that was better than bringing in the National Guard in full military garb straight onto those streets. Obviously Monday night, we were somewhat surprised by the amount of violence, not helped by a couple of folks trying to whip that up at various times. As the night went on, we did bring additional Guardsmen into the police department, there to back up the folks that were there and ended up getting their response teams out in the area. But really, the choice that night was whether or not we were going to lose lives or lose property. And when you have that many hundreds of people shooting guns and running throughout the area and looting, I think that it was important to preserve life. And I think all of the unified command, as well as the guard folks, did a great job of that. We didn't have a single shot fired by a single law enforcement officer. We had hundreds of shots fired at them. We didn't have a single shot fired by a National Guardsman. And we had none of them significantly injured. So, while it was a difficult thing to watch, and challenging, in many ways I think that when we look back at this having law enforcement officers out first and the Guard there behind them was in fact I think the best way to do it.”

Question—What's it been like to have the National spotlight on our state for the better part of 6 months?

Nixon—“These are difficult issues. The challenge with a lot of this is these very difficult issues. And I find people are often, some folks say talking past each other. Sometimes it seems like they're screaming past each other right now. And so I've just tried to stay as calm and centered as I can and try to keep us focused on what we can do short term and long term to get through these moments. And I think we've made some progress. And we're going to continue to make progress. I'm heartened by the folks who are willing to come forward and serve on the Commission. And I'm hopeful that view the unfortunate things that have happened around this to get to a positive for the Show-Me State.”

Question—How will you remember 2014?

Nixon—“I'm not sure. I mean, this is a job in which you live it every day and you try to have long term plans that you're focused on. Clearly, the actions that happened starting on August 9th have brought a tremendous amount of energy and attention and hard issues, difficult choices. So, I'll probably remember it sitting there at Thanksgiving with almost 700 members of the Missouri National Guard that got called up to deal with civil unrest in their own state.”

“Sitting those folks who, on a moment's notice, literally six hours notice got up from their jobs and went to what was one of the most difficult engagements you can possibly have in which everything you're doing is being watched. You're trying to….the issues are difficult. So, I think the thing I'll try to keep, the positive side I'll try to keep in my head is looking around that table with Georganne, we were inside an air hangar where we were having the luncheon, with me and Georganne and our two sons and the Adjutant General and his wife and some other folks, and just having lunch and talking to these soldiers and realizing just what a commitment that is, many of which had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. But to think that you're sitting there in your office and you get a call from your person to say report to civil unrest, so how willing they were to accept the additional training that was necessary to deal with that mission and how disciplined they were under incredibly difficult situations—being yelled at, stuff thrown at them, gunfire, everybody second guessing anything anybody did. Those soldiers completed that mission, are in the process of completing that mission. I think I'll remember that Thanksgiving. That turkey tasted pretty good over there.”

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