Will Operation Legend Have Long-Term Impact on Crime?

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Weekly murder numbers dropped after Operation Legend, a crime-fighting initiative that the Justice Department began this summer, came to Chicago. The week the charges were announced, 10 people were killed, less than half from the week before Operation Legend was started in the city. That number has since doubled again, reports USA Today. The Trump administration has used the muscle of the federal government to crack down on violent crimes, expanding Operation Legend to nine cities since July. The Justice Department sent hundreds of federal officers to Kansas City, Chicago, Albuquerque, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Memphis; St. Louis and Indianapolis. Thousands have been arrested, including many fugitives. Dozens of guns and significant amounts of drugs also have been seized.

Yet violent crime is far from dissipating in cities where the federal initiative was launched. Experts say it’s far too early to assess whether Operation Legend is a success or a “prop.” Last week, Barr credited the program for “dramatic reductions” in homicide and other violent offenses. He acknowledged the challenge to produce results quickly. In Milwaukee, Barr said nonfatal shootings have declined in the weeks since Operation Legend arrived, but there has been no drop in murders. It’s unclear how long Operation Legend will last. Federal officers sent to Kansas City left after a little over two months. The Justice Department is assessing whether to expand elsewhere. Experts say making an enduring impact on violent crime requires more than just a temporary surge of badges on the streets. “There has to be staying power,” said Chris Swecker, former chief of the FBI’s Criminal Division. “If all you are doing is surging resources and pulling them back, that’s just for show.”

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