Federal agents leave Kansas City as Operation LeGend concludes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Federal agents that were assigned to Kansas City as part of Operation LeGend have gone back to their home districts, U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison announced Wednesday.

The federal deployment was named for 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed in Kansas City while he slept during the early hours of June 29. A suspect, Ryson Ellis, was later arrested and charged in the case.

The federal operation that began in Kansas City grew to include several cities including Indianapolis, Memphis, St. louis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque and Chicago.

RELATED: Operation LeGend results in 355 arrests, including 33 murder suspects

Garrison, along with Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith will release more details in a news conference Monday, Sept. 28 at noon.

“Operation LeGend has had a significant impact in reducing the level of violent crime in Kansas City, and those efforts will continue,” Garrison said.

“The additional federal agents who arrived in Kansas City this summer have returned to their home districts, just as we said they would when the operation commenced in July. But the lessons learned and the strategies implemented under Operation LeGend remain, even as this community continues the multi-faceted work of reducing violent crime.”

RELATED: After charges, mom of murdered 4-year-old calls for KC to stand up against violence

Although supported by many in the community, including the family of LeGend Taliferro, the operation also drew significant criticism from community activists who were concerned about the use of federal forces after a summer of intense protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

At the time, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver expressed frustration that no one consulted any local black leaders on the move. 

“This is a big blunder that has created the renewal of the protests, and it didn’t have to happen,” the Congressman said. 

Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement Wednesday that he was supportive of the move because it remained focused on violent crime.

“Since the launch of Operation LeGend, I have been clear that it must focus on fighting violent crime in our city, with federal investigators providing support to our police department in unsolved homicide and non-fatal shooting investigations; getting murderers off the streets,” Lucas said.

“Still, creating a safer community requires several more elements including prevention, intervention, and clearance, and my view is very simply that so long as we still have babies being murdered in our streets and we approach record homicide numbers, we have far, far more work to do.”

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