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After tear gas and riot police in Ferguson provoked national scorn, the state sent Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson.

Johnson, African-American and a north St. Louis County native, brought empathy to the role. He marched with peaceful protesters and spoke of his own experiences as a young driver being pulled over by police for no apparent reason. He drew glowing media attention far and wide.

Today Johnson is back in command of the patrol's Troop C, which serves the 11-county St. Louis region. He makes frequent speeches to law enforcement and community organizations around the country, especially youth groups.

He said three words — "courage, coward and traitor" — describe the reactions to his leadership over those 14 days last August.

His message for law enforcement is "that we need to reach out more, be more visible, and be more in touch with our entire community."

— Virginia Young

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