WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced the federal government is stepping in to help stop the surge of violent crime in Kansas City, Missouri with a program named after a 4-year-old boy lost to gun violence. “Operation Legend,” named after 4-year-old LeGend Tallifero, will lead to increased law enforcement presence in the next 10 days.
McEnany said this was in response to a letter sent by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to Missouri Governor Mike Parson saying “we are at a crisis point and additional tools are needed for law enforcement and prosecutors to interrupt conspiracies to commit murder and the violent acts, particularly felons using deadly weapons in the streets of Kansas City.
Kansas City has had 100 homicides so far in 2020, an increase of 40% from 2019, according to Lucas’ office.
In response to this, Attorney General William Barr announced they will be launching what is called “Operation Legend.” It’s a new initiative to help fight the surge of violent crime seen in Kansas City and directly in response to the request sent in by Lucas and Parson.
“Operation Legend” is specifically going to focus on a federal effort to increase law enforcement effort in the city. Barr has directed agents from the Department of Justices, law enforcement agencies, the FBI, U.S. Marshal, DEA and ATF to be on the ground in Kansas City within the next 10 days and to help state and local officials fight the surge of violent crime.
Taliferro was killed after being shot in the face while he slept in his home in Kansas City. LeGend was born with a very rare congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He had open heart surgery at just 5 months old. Every year since, his family has brought out more than 100 loved ones to rally around Legend at the annual Kansas City Heart Walk.
“We at the federal government want to make sure this never happens and use our resources to the fullest extent of the law to ensure that individuals and young children like LeGend are able to live their lives and live so peacefully,” McEnany said.
Lucas said he learned on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that the Department of Justice plans to send federal investigators to Kansas City as support for unsolved homicide and non-fatal shooting investigations.
“As I understand the department’s plan, any outside help will not be used for regular policing or patrol activities—and solely to clear unsolved murders and shootings,” Lucas said in a statement. “I also understand the United States Attorney in Kansas City has been in contact with the family of LeGend Taliferro who support the investigation effort to help find the murderer of 4-year-old LeGend and many other victims tragically killed this year in Kansas City.
Lucas said he hopes to learn more about this effort over the days ahead.
“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. “As I said in my letter sent last week to Governor Parson that was cited by the White House this afternoon, ‘[W]e will continue to pursue a broad set of social services and other tools to address violent crime now and in the future.’ As mayor, I remain committed to working on all solutions to making our city safer and finding peace for all those impacted by violent crime.”