Flight restrictions in the airspace over Ferguson, Mo. during August's street protests were imposed for safety, not to keep media cameras away from the scene, say St. Louis County police leaders, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Disputing an Associated Press account, police leaders insist that the restrictions that kept news helicopters away were not the department's idea. The Federal Aviation Administration called county police to offer the temporary flight restrictions after hearing reports that shots were fired at aircraft and lasers were pointed at them, police say.
At a news conference, police criticized an AP report that FAA workers were discussing the flight restrictions as a way to keep media out of the air over the protests. The air space was restricted for 12 days in August amid protests that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described that as hearsay between two air traffic controllers making suppositions about why the airspace was being restricted. News directors at three St. Louis television stations said helicopters were able to get footage of the protests at a higher altitude.