At a press conference held earlier today, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III was critical of the delays in deploying National Guard troops to his town, a decision that no doubt contributed to the severity of the looting and arson that has laid waste to the Greater St. Louis township.
“The decision to delay the deployment of the National Guard is deeply concerning,” Knowles said. “Many of our residents are cleaning their business and wondering, ‘What happens tonight?'”
In response, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered 1,500 additional Guardsmen to Ferguson, bringing the total number of troops up to 2,200. The governor sent 700 to Ferguson on Monday night.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson explained that the original plan, which was to have the National Guard provide security to high-risk parts of town and use the police to respond to service calls and other emergencies, was changed without explanation.
“We needed more people to do support tasks and allow us to have more officers on the street,” Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We could have had soldiers down here doing building security at the police station, city hall, the businesses along the major corridors so we could have had officers in cars responding to looting and burning.”
The National Guard largely arrived early this morning, after the civil rest was under way. “We clearly needed them before we saw them,” Knowles said.