COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Bob Taft ordered members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol to Cincinnati following a request from that city's mayor for help after days of unrest.
The patrol will help police with traffic control, building security and escorting fire fighters and paramedics.
"I am very concerned for the citizens of Cincinnati and I appeal to the community to work together to restore order to the streets and neighborhoods," Taft said in a statement.
Taft's office wouldn't say how many patrol members would be sent, citing security. Col. Kenneth L. Morckel, highway patrol superintendent, also declined to release details.
The shooting of the unarmed black teen-ager by a white police officer over the weekend sparked rioting that entered a fourth day Thursday.
Cincinnati Mayor Charles Luken declared a state of emergency and citywide curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. The mayor said that asking the state to send in the National Guard was still an option.
Taft can't consider sending guardsmen until Luken makes the request and that had not occurred, Taft spokeswoman Denise Lee said.
It made sense to send the patrol given the nature of the request, mainly for help with traffic and medical emergencies, Morckel said.
"That's the mission we do right now," he said.
Taft also sent the patrol because its officers have arrest powers -- the National Guard does not -- and they have more training in handling civil disobedience, said Mary Anne Sharkey, Taft's director of communications.
Morckel said troopers would be on overtime and other troopers would fill in around the state. He said patrol services would not be disrupted.
Ohio governors have called out the patrol and the Ohio National Guard only three times since the May 1970 fatal shootings of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen trying to quell an anti-war protest on campus.
In December 1973 and again in February 1974, Gov. John Gilligan sent the patrol and guardsmen in response to truckers' strikes in northern and central Ohio.
In 1993, Gov. George Voinovich sent the patrol and guardsmen to a prison riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville in which nine inmates and one guard died.
A governor follows a strict process to ensure that sending the guard is not a decision made lightly, said Brig. Gen. Steve Koper, spokesman for Adjutant General John H. Smith.
"The most important factor that he starts with is, what specifically does a local community want the national guard to do for them?" Koper said.
He said the governor would also consider whether all local resources had been used.