Board of Aldermen question police on how they have handled prote - KMOV.com

Board of Aldermen question police on how they have handled protests

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Police making an arrest during protests Sunday night in downtown St. Louis. Credit: KMOV Police making an arrest during protests Sunday night in downtown St. Louis. Credit: KMOV
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

As the St. Louis area continues to see almost daily protests following the Jason Stockley verdict, city leaders are hearing from police about how the department is handling the protests. 

Aldermen questioned Major Mary Warnecke about the use of pepper spray during demonstrations. 

"I do believe people have the right to protest, if they want to all day and night, that's okay, it really is," said Alderwoman Marlene Davis. "But it's not okay for people to be harmed on either side."

Davis says her constituents are asking her about reports of demonstrators being sprayed point blank in the face with pepper spray. Warnecke says the department has strict guidelines on its use. 

"They should only be used when certain things apply," said Warnecke. "When a commander on that scene has authorized the use of (pepper spray), we have given orders to disperse and we have criminal acts occurring." 

The department is doing a complete review of all recent demonstrations. Guidelines are in place, but during the course of a demonstration, events can change quickly. 

"If it is a dynamic where the bottles are thrown on officers and have multiple injuries, things do turn dynamic very quickly," said Warnecke. "But when all reasonable means are available, we will give those warnings, give them avenue and opportunity to leave." 

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was sitting in on the meeting Tuesday but did not talk with board members. They plan on inviting her back. 

One topic that is expected to come up is creating an independent investigative unit that would be under the control of the Circuit Attorney's Office. 

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