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Operation Legend expanded to St. Louis to confront violent crime

Operation Legend, a sustained, systematic, and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime, will be expanding into the City of St. Louis.

“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Memphis and St. Louis, two cities experiencing increases in violent crime that no resident of those cities should have to accept as part of everyday life. For decades, the Department of Justice has achieved significant success when utilizing our anti-violent crime task forces and federal law enforcement agents to enforce federal law and assist American cities that are experiencing upticks in violent crime. The Department of Justice’s assets will supplement local law enforcement efforts, as we work together to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off of our streets.”

“Operation Legend has come to St. Louis,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen. “Today we expand our ever-present federal commitment to the City of St. Louis by welcoming federal agents and money to our City for the purpose of fighting gun and gang violence.  This expansion will greatly enhance on-going crime-fighting by our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Joint ATF-St. Louis Metropolitan Strike Force, and the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force.  Our children are being caught in the crossfire and murdered in senseless acts of gun violence.  I am very grateful to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships in a dedicated effort to achieve safety and security for our community.  I want to thank Chief John Hayden as well as the various federal and state agencies that make this initiative possible.”

Operation Legend is named in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early on the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. The operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Missouri, and is now underway in Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Today, the expansion of Operation Legend was announced in St. Louis and Memphis.

In the City of St. Louis, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending more than 50 federal investigators from the Department of Homeland Security to the City.  Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, these investigators will complement the work already underway by existing joint federal, state, and local task forces focused on combatting violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking organizations.

St. Louis is currently experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with homicides up over 34% and non-fatal shootings are up over 13%.  These resources will be utilized to address the spike in violent crime.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make available $1 million to support Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts and shot spotter responses in St. Louis.  The City is also receiving two Special Assistant United States Attorneys from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to support violent crime prosecutions.

This however has prompted Black leaders to question why police reform isn’t part of the conversation. State senators are debating a crime bill proposed by Gov. Parson to address violence in St. Louis and other cities. Black lawmakers threatened a filibuster, criticizing Parson for prioritizing tough-on-crime policies instead of systemic racism and police brutality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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