CLAYTON, Mo. (USA Today) – St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar defended his department’s use of tear gas, smoke, batons, rifles and armored trucks in the days of civil unrest that followed the Michael Brown shooting, saying that the military equipment is sometimes necessary to patrol “very urban areas.”
He said at a news conference Wednesday that he used his 28 years of law enforcement experience and deployed the appropriate response to peaceful demonstrators and others who officers saw carrying guns.
“We have a responsibility,” Belmar said, adding that his department often uses their equipment for barricade situations and while executing search warrants. “I never envisioned a day in which we would see that type of equipment used against protesters. But I also never envisioned a day in 28 years that we’d see the kind of criminal activity spin out of peaceful demonstrations.”
He said officers had to make a decision and that he had no regrets about his department’s tactics.