St. Louis County chief says protests mostly peaceful, police remain vigilant for violent individuals

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton says regional police departments are united in their response to protesting.

“Our position is citizens have the right to protest. Nonviolent protests. Part of the problem you mention is peaceful protests get hijacked by violent (individuals) who will commit crimes,” she said.

Barton says county police officers are working protests throughout the St. Louis region. She acknowledges that most protests have been peaceful but says the county is ready for the alternative.

“We have plans in place. They will allow for officers to defend themselves when violently encountered,” she said.

The protests have come as the county is trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we’re ever going to see end of this, we need to follow the safety protocols and recommendations of department of health,” she said. “Be vigilante in this until we find a vaccine.”

The county police department is now in discussion over its budget and Chief Barton says there will be a major shortage.

“It’s not going to be pretty but we’ve been through tough times and we’ll make it again,” she said.

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