A national meeting for NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, was held in Springfield over the weekend.
The key-note speaker, Captain Ronald Johnson, says it came as a shock to him when during a press conference following Michael Brown's being shot and killed by a police officer, he was tapped as the one to lead protest security. He says he didn't ask why - he just hit the ground running. Many will remember seeing him speak at press conferences and walk with protestors in the days that followed.
Johnson, who is African-American, says the charge was not an easy one. Eventually drastic and controversial measures were taken, like the National Guard being called in. Johnson says nearly four years after the incident - much work has yet to be done to ease racial tensions.
"We have these similarities that connect us, as fathers and mothers and sons and daughters. But we got to be a part of the community - we have to walk in our communities," he urged those in attendance.
Johnson now heads community engagement and outreach efforts for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and says police need to get to know people in areas where they might not interact unless a problem is being addressed.
"I think the best practice is to walk in those places you don't normally walk," he said. He went on to add the includes police speaking with their critics.