(CNN) -

As tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, have bubbled, one official after another has taken the lead, grappling to figure out how to stop it from coming to a boil.

First, it was the police chief who took charge and stumbled. Then, the governor entered the picture and brought on a Ferguson son to head security. The feds have also stepped in, with Attorney General Eric Holder stopping by Wednesday to check up on their investigation.

Here's a look at the players who have shaped the city's response to the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, at the hands of a white police officer.

WHO:

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson

What he did:

From the start the chief said his department -- which handed off the local investigation to St. Louis County -- would release information as it received it. It would be a slow process, he warned.

How it played out:

From the beginning the chief was slammed for just how slow that information came out.

The big one was the identity of the officer. It took six days before the name -- Darren Wilson -- was revealed. Cops said it was because he received death threats. Critics denounced the delay as a PR stumble that coincided with another one -- the release of a video that police said showed Brown robbing a store minutes before he was shot.

Critics lambasted the disclosure of the video as character assassination. The chief said he had to do it.

Jackson was also criticized for his department's response to the protests in the days immediately after Brown's death.

As the demonstrations grew more heated, police used on the crowd tear gas, pepper bullets and what looked like stun grenades. Some police rolled into action sitting on an armored personnel carrier.

How it was received:

"You're in trouble when your SWAT team is on the front line of dealing with a civil disturbance," said retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, a CNN analyst.

Jackson said police had to protect themselves and that some of the protesters were throwing fire bombs.

WHO:

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles

What he did:

The young mayor has tried to tell people unfamiliar with the town he has lived in his whole life that it's not the crucible of racial tensions it appears to be to those outside the city limits.

"I've lived here 35 years. There's always been a strong African-American presence," he told CNN. "We've never seen this kind of violence, never seen this kind of frustration or tension between the races."

How it played out:

The mayor has kept largely out of the spotlight, letting other officials take care of news conferences and major public appearances. Instead he's gone on one-on-one interviews and given updates on how his town reacted.

How it was received:

His low profile may be helping him to avert criticism over actions taken since Brown's shooting, but Knowles has been in the line of fire with other officials over the disproportionate number of white officers on the police force of his majority African-American town.