Belmar almost immediately accepted the task, which will include authorizing arrests of protesters and handling their release. With 460 members, the county police department is nearly 10 times the size of the police department in this suburb of 21,000.
Jackson had previously told The Post that the disturbances in Ferguson were unlike anything he had handled in 30 years of policing. His department, he said, was learning as they go.
Since the slaying of Michael Brown, Jackson has not only had to manage policing a city rife with racial tension, but had to deal with a phalanx of media requests. His spokesman, Devin James, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Meanwhile, community leaders in Ferguson have consistently criticized the handling of nightly protests as being arbitrary and unnecessarily aggressive. After a relatively tranquil few days, those questions were resurrected after Ferguson police authorized the arrest of several protest leaders and freelance journalist Mary Moore early Friday morning. The final tally of those arrested, according to state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, was 14.
The decision to give responsibility to county police apparently stems from meetings this week with the Department of Justice, which is investigating the department for civil rights violations. Aldolphus Pruitt, president of the local NAACP, told The Post that civic leaders argued that the number of police departments in Ferguson had made it impossible to “determine who the hell is in charge.”
“There was a desire expressed to have a more unified company system,” said Pruitt, who cautiously supported the decision. After all, it was county police who had tear-gased people on the street in the early days of protesting. Still, Pruit added “they are a bigger, better-trained and more professional police department. It will hopefully help things improve.”
Meanwhile, activists from a group known as the Millenials continued to tweet about their arrest. Brittany Farrell, 25, posted pictures on Friday evening of those arrested in orange jumpsuits, unable to pay escalating bond costs.
Late Monday night, Farrell and others had linked arms and stood in the middle of the street, daring police to arrest them for “standing up for their constitutional rights.” Police eventually walked away from the protesters that night, and Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said he respected their rights to peaceful protest.
The group reappeared on a rainy Thursday, after police asked protesters to quiet down and obey an 11 p.m. noise ordinance.
The protesters chanted even louder and began to walk toward the police department parking lot with their hands up. From a distance, a police officer on an intercom commanded them to get back on the sidewalk or risk arrest.
The protesters locked arms again and continued to chant. At least a dozen police officers approached them quickly, and the group began to race back to the nearby sidewalk.
“Get them,” an officer in a brown uniform told others. They arrested the group quickly, pulling apart those who linked arms, yelling charges to them such as “inciting violence” and “failure to obey.”
In the mix was Moore, the journalist, who was recording the action.
“What a remarkable display of making your own rules as you go,” said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township. “They took the journalist who was doing her job and wasn’t involved.”
Of the nightly protests in Ferguson after the slaying of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, at the hands of a white police officer, Darren Wilson, this rainy night was relatively small and quiet. Protesters had complained that the noise ordinance had been enforced arbitrarily. Some nights police ask then not to drum after 11. But there were no drums on this night and police asked the protesters to stop yelling. They did not comply.