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Pittsburgh Officials Brace For Possible Outbursts To Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency ahead of a grand jury's decision on whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged in the shooting of Michael Brown.

The Missouri National Guard is now in place, ready to deal with any protests stemming from the decision.

A few months ago, the scene in Ferguson was night after night of unrest.

And now, cities across the country, including Pittsburgh, are also bracing for potential outbursts when the grand jury decision is announced.

"Now that we know the verdict is coming, we're at an all-hands on deck stage," said acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay. "My command staff, they spent all day, all day preparing what are we going to do, because we are extremely concerned about the potential for things to go poorly if we're not careful."

Chief McLay met with community members Monday night, in a previously scheduled meeting to talk about issues in the city.

It is part of his approach to policing, and one he hopes will serve the city well, if there is a negative response to a grand jury outcome in Ferguson. He wants to build relationships with command staff and the community leaders.

"Who do you know? Who are the black leaders in your community that you can pick up the phone and say, 'How are we going to get through this together?'" said Chief McLay.

"There's two approaches," said Mayor Bill Peduto. "The first is police response, which is to be prepared, and that is a coordinated effort between the city, the county, the state and federal governments. But the second is the community approach and that is getting to community leaders."

Organized protests are already in the works for the day after a Ferguson verdict and officials say they are ready for that.

"It's one thing for peaceful protests. That's part of our democracy," said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. "Whatever issue people might not be happy with; they certainly have a right to state that. But if it goes beyond that, we have to be prepared for that."

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