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Legislature closes in Jefferson City

Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, mans the microphone on the final day of the 97th Legislature at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on Friday, May 16, 2014. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said today that Gov. Jay Nixon should declare a state of emergency in Ferguson and impose a curfew in the St. Louis County "corridor" that has seen violence.

"Whether it's eight o'clock or nine o'clock, whenever it hits, law-abiding people would know they need to be off the street at that time," Diehl said in an interview. "Curfews are routinely and legitimately used as a law enforcement technique in situations like this.

"What's happening now," he said, " is, after dark you have peaceful protestors that are mixed up with those that aren't peaceful. It's a question of elements from outside Ferguson coming into this. They're coming here to cause trouble."

Diehl stopped short of saying that the governor should call in the Missouri National Guard. He said that under a state of emergency, the state, through agencies such as the Missouri Highway Patrol, could coordinate the response from all law enforcement agencies involved.

"The governor has a lot of tools at his disposal" by declaring an emergency, Diehl said.

Diehl, an attorney, is in line to become the next speaker of the Missouri House in January.

Virginia Young is the Jefferson City bureau chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.