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All eyes on Ferguson as decision nears

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The grand jury weighing whether or not to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown is expected…

The grand jury weighing whether or not to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown is expected to deliver a decision by mid-November. But possible unrest could return to the city if the grand jury declines to indict next week, while police officials have still not addressed the treatment of journalists who covered the protests.

The protests following the Aug. 9 shooting prompted reports of police officers arresting and intimidating reporters who were trying to cover the story.

According to Officer Tim Zoll, a spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department, the department has no plans to change police treatment of media in Ferguson.

"The Ferguson Police Department is going to operate the same way we've always operated and our first concern is the safety of the public," said Zoll. "We hope the media is smart enough to take our advice."

However, Sgt. Brian Schellman with the St. Louis County Police Department said he believes the county's officers have worked to create the needed change in how they deal with reporters.

"Since the arrests [of media personnel] in August, our department has taken steps with training to give further knowledge to our officers, including an extensive review of the first, fourth, and fourteenth amendments," said Sgt. Schellman.

Sgt. Schellman also promised that any officers assigned to the Ferguson detail have completed the program or will have completed it prior to the grand jury's decision.

"Obviously the goal of the department is to not encroach on any reporters trying to capture their story," said Sgt. Schellman. "We don't want to treat the media badly. They're there for a purpose."

The education program was open to the Ferguson Police Department. But Zoll said he isn't aware of how many, if any, Ferguson police officers attended.

A St. Louis County Police Department "security detail … trained in civil disobedience" will be handling protests. According to Zoll, Ferguson police aren't getting involved with protestors.

But so far, they have been involved. The police officers from the City of Ferguson, as well as St. Louis County, both worked to contain the protests in August.

When St. Louis County officers unlawfully arrested Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly, Ferguson Police Chief Tim Jackson told the Los Angeles Times that the officers likely "didn't know better."

"I would hope that the media would know how to handle themselves," Zoll responded, sounding less conciliatory. "If the situation becomes volatile and a police officer asks you to leave, then you leave."