'We'll be here until it's over'; police working long hours during protests

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by Russell Kinsual / News 4 and Dan Greenwald / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 21 at 4:29 PM

FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOV.com) – St. Louis County Police canceled all vacations and days off, and placed officers on 12-hour shifts when crowds began to swell on West Florissant.

“A lot of people, whether it’s tactical operations or any police officer, has been working 14, 16, 18 hour days,” Brian Schellman with the St. Louis County Police Department said. “These guys have families, and haven’t seen them in a week and a half now, so it’s tough on everybody, it’s taking a mental toll. But it’s our job and be here until it’s over.”

Most of the police departments in the St. Louis metro area have sent officers to Ferguson, but they have received an assist from sheriff departments in surrounding counties. Franklin County SWAT teams will be on duty Thursday night. Jefferson County sent in a team earlier in the week,

“It’s really not unusual to help each other out,” Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said. “We’ve had some high profile cases here, and Highway Patrol, St. Louis County, and all the agencies have come out here to help us. We appreciate that and we’re just returning the favor.”

Police said the long hours without a break are taking a toll, but they said the relative calm of Tuesday and Wednesday helped them get more rest. Officers said they are relying on their professionalism and each other to stay sharp.

“We lean on each other and there’s great comradery down there and that will continue,” Schellman said.

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