Operation Legend, a federal effort to combat the surge in violent crime throughout the country, has already shown promising results in one of America’s most violent cities.
Through Operation Legend, the government has dispatched over one thousand federal agents nationwide. At least 400 of those agents have been sent to Chicago, Illinois, where homicides had drastically increased since last year.
Attorney General William Barr spoke about Chicago’s statistics prior to Operation Legend: “When the operation was announced on July 22, homicides in the city were up 51% over 2019. Over the previous weekend, more than 60 people had been shot in Chicago, with over a dozen fatalities.”
The federal government has announced more than 500 arrests and 124 people charged with federal crimes since the operation began, stating that they have “reversed” Chicago’s surge in violence.
At a press conference, Attorney General Barr said that the federal program had cut Chicago’s murder rate “roughly in half since before the operation”. “The results of those actions speak for themselves: over the first five weeks of Operation Legend in Chicago, murders dropped by 50% over the previous five weeks. August ultimately saw a 45% decrease in murders compared to July, and a 35% decrease compared to June,” Barr said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown were invited to the press conference, but chose not to attend.
Barr stated that although Operation Legend can not take full credit for the decrease in Chicago’s murder rate, he believes “that it is an important part of that drop.”
Operation Legend in Other States
Throughout the United States, more than 2,500 people have been arrested, and 600 are facing federal charges, all through Operation Legend.
The operation began in July, and was named after 4 year old LeGend Teliferro, who was killed in Kansas City, Missouri while he was sleeping by a stray bullet which was intended for someone else.
“The increase in violence that has plagued Chicago and other cities is what prompted the department to launch Operation Legend two months ago in Kansas City, Mo. The purpose of the operation was to make clear that his life mattered, his name should be remembered and other innocent victims like him, including the 8-year-old girl killed in Chicago on Labor Day, should not suffer such senseless death,” Barr said.
According to Barr, violent crime decreased by 32% in Kansas City since the operation was launched. He also noted that St. Louis has seen a 47% drop in murders, and murders in Detroit have decreased by more than 25%.
“Bringing federal charges is significant because defendants arrested for violent crimes are often detained before trial, unlike state defendants who are too often released. In addition, federal defendants will face serious sentences if convicted, with a real possibility of long-term imprisonment … knowing that, many of the arrestees cooperate with the government and lead to even more violent offenders,” Barr said.