St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told his bosses yesterday his department could have projected a better image in managing last month's crisis in Ferguson, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He suggested that the body of Michael Brown should have been moved more quickly after he was shot Aug. 9 in a confrontation with police officer Darren Wilson. And after the riots that followed, officials realized that it was provocative for officers atop armored trucks to scan crowds through scopes mounted on rifles. “The optics made a difference,” Belmar told the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners, which questioned him in the first meeting since the controversy began. “But you should have seen it in person.” He made no apology for use of tear gas and other aggressive tactics against crowds that turned violent during nights of protests. “At the end of the day, we didn't kill anyone because of our actions or seriously injure someone,” Belmar said.
Poice tactics have drawn condemnation from critics. Police board Chairman Roland Corvington, formerly in charge of the FBI office in St. Louis, asked Belmar to explain why snipers pointed rifles at the crowd from the roofs of vehicles. “There is a safety on the trigger,” Belmar replied, “and the scope serves as a really nice set of binoculars. But it didn't look good, and we learned from that.” Separately, Ferguson Chief Thomas Jackson apologized todayto the parents of Michael Brown, as well as to any peaceful protesters who feel he didn’t do “enough to protect their constitutional right to protest.” He also apologized that it took investigating officers four hours to remove Brown’s body from the street after Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him last month.