Is Operation LeGend actually reducing crime in big cities?
- Operation LeGend is a movement across law enforcement to address the surge in violent crime across the United States. It was named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed on June 29, 2020 while asleep in Kansas City, Missouri.
- President Trump created Operation LeGend as a promise to assist America’s most violent cities. Attorney General Barr directed federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, DEA and ATF to surge resources to Kansas City in response.
- Since the creation of the Operation, local authorities have made more than 1,000 arrests, including suspects in 90 homicides according to Attorney General Barr.
- Affected cities include Kansas City, Chicago, Albuquerque, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.
- According to the Council on Criminal Justice, from May to June 2020, homicides in 20 major US cities increased by 37%, led by Chicago, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.
Operation LeGend was born out of the horrific murder of LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old shot and killed in his sleep in Kansas City on June 29. The program has expanded to fight crime in other states such as Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and others.
It is a strong operation, given that it unites federal and local law enforcement agencies to fight criminal activity. This collaboration increases not only manpower but also access to technology, along with a stricter way of dealing with crime, considering that “in federal court, the penalties tend to be harsher.”
Operation LeGend has resulted in over 2,000 arrests since August 31. These have been for various offenses, including homicide, illegally owned firearms, and significant drug seizures of serious substances such as methamphetamine and fentanyl. As of last week, the operation has successfully seized “nearly 70 guns, $207,000 in cash,” and over 1,500 grams of illegal drugs.
The operation is not a witch hunt for minority criminals, as some have argued. Instead, it takes a specific approach towards considerably dangerous individuals, or “trigger pullers,” adding to its effectiveness.
Despite criticism, it was made clear that Operation LeGend was a necessary new initiative given the reported “40 percent increase in homicides” in Missouri at the time and staggering rates in other states. President Trump acted quickly in putting the plan into action, once again proving that he is serious about keeping Americans safe. The operation also demonstrates the need for active and effective law enforcement to deal with current crime and act as a deterrent for potential future criminal activity.
Although having noble roots in honoring the memory of LeGend Taliferro—a young child who was shot and killed in his Kansas City home—Operation Legend has seemed like a political gimmick by Donald Trump to get re-elected since its inception on July 9th. Most notably, all the cities that the crime-busting operation has been expanded into—Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis—are led by Democrat mayors. Albuquerque's Tim Keller said the initiative is a part of 'Trump's political agenda' to present Democrat-led cities as being violent. This notion of being used as political pawns is a mutual concern among all the eight cities' mayors where the operation has been active.
AG Barr's public statement that federal agents had made 200 arrests in Kansas City in the first two weeks of Operation LeGend was hotly contested and later disproved by government officials. Critics of the operation in Kansas City have pointed out the low clearance rate of homicide cases as proof that the initiative isn't as successful as the boasting about mass arrests would make it seem. Damon Daniel, president of AdHoc Group Against Crime, said that regardless of any federal intervention, 'investing in people and investing in these places where violence happens, making sure people have access to opportunities. That's getting to the root causes of what we're dealing with here.'
Operation LeGend is merely a political band-aid and not necessarily the cure that some hoped it would be.