ferguson mike brown
Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

The governor of Missouri has announced he is taking the St Louis Police department "out of the situation" of the ongoing protests in Ferguson.

Governor Jay Nixon said he was relieving the department of its duties following four days of unrest in the town in the wake of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.

The force has come under criticism in recent days for their heavy-handed tactics in controlling the disorder, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets as well as military equipment.

Police have also been filmed firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera news crew before dismantling their equipment.

Two journalists trying to cover the protests were also arrested in a McDonald's fast food restaurant.

Congressmen Lacy Clay told a Bloomberg reporter that Nixon was "on his way to St Louis to announce he is taking St. Louis County police out of the situation". It is not known if state police or the FBI will now take control of the situation in Ferguson.

The unnamed officer who shot Brown has been placed on administrative leave while investigations continue. The police department said the name released by activist group alleged to be the officer responsible for shooting Brown is neither a Ferguson nor St Louis County officer.

A Ferguson police spokesperson said: "The value of releasing the name [of the officer] is far outweighed by the risk of harm to the officer and his family."