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Missouri governor announces leadership changes in Ferguson

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Thursday, August 14, said the Missouri Highway Patrol will take over security operations in Ferguson. The announcement comes in response to mounting criticism about how the heavily armed police forces have handled the protests in the St. Louis suburb.

It remains unclear how much the leadership change will alter the situation in Ferguson. The Missouri Highway Patrol has already been on the ground in Ferguson during the past few days, and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson earlier said that the state highway patrol already makes some of the calls.

Still, the lack of police coordination certainly contributed to the rise in tensions. By appointing one agency in charge, it might be easier for police to coordinate more peaceful crowd control tactics.

"Our hope is that this operational shift will begin the process of lowering the intensity of [police-community] interactions and potential risks," Nixon said.

Nixon said the leadership changes will not affect the ongoing criminal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. That investigation is being handled by the criticized St. Louis County Police. Some people have questioned the objectivity of the county police's investigation.

Separately, the FBI is conducting its own investigation into whether the incident amounted to a civil rights violation.

To learn more about the situation in Ferguson, read Vox's full explainer.