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, reports USA Today, saying that the military equipment is sometimes necessary to patrol “very urban areas.” Speaking at a news conference, he said he used his 28 years of law enforcement experience and deployed the appropriate response to peaceful demonstrators and others who officers saw carrying guns.
“I never envisioned a day in which we would see that type of equipment used against protesters,” Belmar said. “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. “Our choices were to rip, wade into the crowd with nightsticks and riot sticks,” Belmar said. “In my 28 years, I’ve seen the damage they can do. They’re not temporary damage, sometimes those injuries are long-lasting.”