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Belmar: “The safety of the people of Ferguson is my first priority”

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) - Despite what the grand jury returns,  St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says public safety remains his first priority for the people of Ferguson.

The grand jury will determine whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting and killing Brown. Chief Belmar won’t release details about the operational plans, but says he’s planning on a very emotional response regardless of what the grand jury decides.

He is going into it with basically the same mindset he says he had on August 10th which is preservation of life.  His worst case scenario is that we have a repeat of events for a few days of what we had the first time.

Belmar says he understands the emotion and the anger but it is heartbreaking to see a community turn on itself.  He doesn't want to see that happen. He doesn't want to see something happen that would prejudice the ability of Ferguson and the community on West Florissant not to be able to go out, shop, and live their lives and raise their families.

Belmar says while preservation of life is number one, after that he won’t stand by and allow looting or burglaries.

Chief Belmar says officer morale is high because officers have confidence in the plan in place.  During the height of the Ferguson crisis, all days off were cancelled for three weeks and officers worked 12 hour days.  Chief Belmar doesn't want to lose sight of the people around Ferguson.  He says their safety is his top priority.  Chief Belmar sees the Ferguson crisis as a challenge for his department to get better and build trust and relationships in the community.