St. Louis County police have spent around $100,000 stocking up on riot gear and other items they may need if protests turn violent after prosecutors announce whether a Ferguson officer will face criminal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the Associated Press reports. A state grand jury has been meeting since shortly after Brown, who was 18 and black, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, on Aug. 9. Brown was unarmed and some witnesses said he was trying to surrender.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said the grand jury decision is expected in mid- to late November. Businesses, schools and government offices have been gearing up for the announcement amid fear that protests could become violent if the grand jury decides not to recommend charging Wilson. St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said that since August, the county has spent $65,500 for new riot gear, such as helmets, shields and batons. The department has spent another $35,000 to replenish the supply of items including pepper spray, smoke canisters and rubber bullets. Police faced criticism in the early days of the sometimes violent protests that followed the shooting for responding with riot equipment and armored vehicles. Several school districts have asked the prosecutor's office to make the announcement on a weekend, when classes are not in session. Many have also kept parents advised of preparations.