Rise in Murders Prompts Fed ‘Operation Legend’ Intervention in Kansas City

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Photo by DanGutierrez via Flickr

Attorney General William Barr says he will send hundreds of federal law enforcement officers from different agencies to Kansas City, Mo., in an effort to counter a spike in homicides in that city. 

This news follows a public session led by the Kansas City Police Department to discuss policing and the spikes in violent crime, a local CBS news affiliate reported. 

The Department of Justice’s announcement of the program, dubbed “Operation Legend,” promises that a combined force of agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be on the ground within the next 10 days.

It is unclear how long federal agents will be in Kansas City. 

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas told Kansas City News reporters that the plan is for federal law enforcement officials to investigate unsolved murders and shootings; they will not participate in daily policing or patrol activities.

In other words, federal involvement is only to alleviate the pressure on local law enforcement, who have been investigating too many crimes once. With the feds helping on lengthy investigations, local police can continue to patrol.

The department will also send additional resources to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, “to help handle an expected increase in prosecutions,” the release said.

Mayor Lucas has been outspoken about his belief that fighting the spikes in violent crime rates has to attack the “known root causes of violence.” 

“The investigative support effort announced this afternoon can be only one tool out of many, such as mental health treatment and restorative justice, in addressing violent crime,” Lucas said in a statement.

The DOJ announcement also comes after Lucas wrote a public letter to Missouri Governor Michael Parson, asking to work on legislation that would combat rising violent crime rates in Kansas City, citing that Kansas City is “at a crisis point.” 

“Operation Legend” is named after Kansas City resident four-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was fatally shot while he slept on June 29.

Kansas City Police don’t know who the perpetrator is, but the department released surveillance video and a photo of a car possibly connected to the shooting.

Taliferro was the 95th homicide in a year on track to be the city’s deadliest in history.

His death is just one of the latest “in a string [of] violence to plague Kansas City in recent weeks,” the DOJ announcement says, citing that Kansas City has seen over 100 homicides this year, making it a 40 percent increase from last year’s data. 

Rising violence is afflicting other cities as well.

While overall crime is down since the outbreak of COVID-19, murder rates have skyrocketed in nearly every major city in the US. In the top 25 major cities, murder rates are up 16.1 percent in relation to last year’s Uniform Crime Report data. 

Additional Reading: Is Gun Violence Spike Tied to Rise in Firearm Purchases During Pandemic? 

This summary was prepared by TCR staff writer Andrea Cipriano

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