ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis County police said they have spent around $100,000 stocking up on riot gear and other items they may need if protests turn violent after prosecutors announce whether a Ferguson officer will face criminal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
A state grand jury has been meeting since shortly after Brown, who was 18 and black, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, on Aug. 9. Brown was unarmed and some witnesses said he was trying to surrender. Wilson's attorneys have repeatedly declined comment.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said the grand jury decision is expected in mid- to late November. His spokesman, Ed Magee, said Monday that the decision will come no earlier than Saturday, but the exact date is not yet known.
Businesses, schools and government offices have been gearing up for the announcement amid fear that protests could become violent if the grand jury decides not to recommend charging Wilson.
St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said that since August, the county has spent $65,500 for new riot gear such as helmets, shields and batons. The department has spent another $35,000 to replenish the supply of things like pepper spray, smoke canisters and rubber bullets. Police faced criticism in the early days of the sometimes-violent protests that followed the shooting for responding with riot equipment and armored vehicles.
County police Chief Jon Belmar has said police won't impede peaceful dissent after the grand jury decision, but will do what is necessary to protect the safety of protesters, police and the public.
Several school districts have asked the prosecutor's office to make the announcement on a weekend, when classes are not in session. Many have also kept parents advised of preparations.
"We've reached out to parents, first and foremost, to reassure them that student safety will always be our top priority," said Jana Shortt, spokeswoman for the 11,300-student Ferguson-Florissant School District. She declined to offer specifics.
Last week, civil rights activists asked for advance notice before the announcement is made, saying they can help prevent violence if they have 48 hours to prepare for protests.
Magee said a decision hasn't been made about how much notice will be given, and to whom.