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JEFFERSON CITY • The new commander assigned to keep order in Ferguson is a veteran law enforcement officer with deep knowledge of the St. Louis area.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson was born and reared in the St. Louis area. He has been with the patrol for 26 years, the last 12 as commanding officer of the patrol’s Troop C, which serves the 11-county St. Louis region.

“I’ve worked with him for many years, even before I was chief,” said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. “You couldn’t have a better partner for the region. He’s smart, he’s professional, he comes from the area,” Dotson said.

Johnson’s father-in-law, Charles McCrary, was a deputy police chief for the St. Louis Police Department before he retired, Dotson added.

Johnson was tapped Thursday by Gov. Jay Nixon to coordinate law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, where violence has flared nightly since the fatal police shooting last weekend of an unarmed black teenager.

Johnson said at a news conference that he planned to “have an approach that we’re in this together.”

Johnson, who is African-American, joined the Highway Patrol in 1987. His first assignment after graduating from the agency’s Law Enforcement Academy was with Troop C. He was promoted to corporal in 1995 and sergeant in 1997.

When he made lieutenant in 1999, he was transferred to Troop A in Lee’s Summit. He returned to the St. Louis area as commanding officer in 2002, when he was promoted to captain. Troop C, which is headquartered St. Charles County, includes 147 uniformed officers and 157 civilian employees.

The patrol said Johnson holds a criminal justice degree and has attended various training programs, including the FBI National Academy.

Dotson said Johnson “understands urban policing and the challenges we have. He’s low-profile, but not afraid to take on the tough jobs.”

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