The city of St. Louis' police chief condemned the heavy-handed tactics being used by officers responding to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, a significant departure since the city works closely with the departments there.
The protests have been going on each night since a Ferguson police officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, on Saturday. Community members have spoken out against what they see as an unjustified killing and the police department's refusal to release the officer's identity or more details about the shooting. The St. Louis County Police Department was brought in to investigate.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson said, if he were in charge, he would not have employed military-style policing such as what has transpired over the past few days. He also stressed that the city's police force will not assist the county's efforts.
"My gut told me what I was seeing were not tactics that I would use in the city and I would never put officers in situations that I would not do myself," he said.
The two forces often work together, but in this case, Dotson explained, "My personal side was concerned about the things I saw transpiring in Ferguson."
Police officers in Ferguson have regularly come out in full riot gear, throwing tear gas and firing rubber bullets at protesters.
In his remarks on Thursday, President Barack Obama also condemned the militarized police response.
"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism and looting," Obama said. "There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights."
Throughout the week, military veterans have also slammed the militarized tactics and excessive amounts of military-style weapons and equipment used by police. Many have said the SWAT officers, like those who arrested The Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly and The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery Wednesday evening, are more heavily armed and outfitted than they themselves were while fighting in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another reason Dotson did not want the city and county police to collaborate was because of the history of racial profiling by county police. In an email to a St. Louis alderman who brought up concerns of racial profiling, he wrote: "I agree and removed our tactical assistance. We did not send tactical resources to Ferguson on Tuesday or Wednesday. Our only assistance was that of four traffic officers to help divert traffic and keep both pedestrians and motorists safe. On Thursday we will have no officers assisting Ferguson."
In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol, instead of the St. Louis County Police Department, would now be in charge of security in Ferguson.
See updates on the situation in Ferguson below:
08/26/2014 7:49 AM EDT
The Toll On Michael Brown's Family
USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:
Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.
In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.
"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."
08/26/2014 7:44 AM EDT
New Audio Allegedly Captures Moment Michael Brown Was Shot
New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.
CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.
08/25/2014 12:58 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: America, It's Time To Deal With Policing
08/25/2014 12:53 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: All Of Us Are Required To Respond
Rev. Al Sharpton: All of us are required to respond to this #MikeBrownfuneral— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) August 25, 2014
08/25/2014 12:48 PM EDT
Benjamin Crump: We Will Not Accept Three-Fifths Justice For Michael Brown
08/25/2014 12:28 PM EDT
Funeral Program Includes Tribute From Michael Brown's Parents
USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father
08/25/2014 12:22 PM EDT
Michael Brown's Stepmother: He Prophesied His Own Death
Stepmother of #MichaelBrown said the late teen "pretty much prophesied his own death and didn't realize it."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 25, 2014