KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two weeks and two days after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro was shot and killed while sleeping in an apartment, Kansas City’s mayor and the federal attorney for the Western District of Missouri met to explain “Operation LeGend.”
“An unprecedented spike in violent crime deserves an unprecedented response from government authorities,” U.S. District Attorney Tim Garrison said.
Kansas City has had 101 homicides so far in 2020. According to the police department’s Daily Homicide Analysis, that’s 26 more killings than the city had at the same time in 2019. In 2018, there were 64 homicides by this date.
“It’s sad that a 4-year-old had to get our attention,” Rosilyn Temple, founder of the KC chapter of the activist group Mothers In Charge, said. “These are lives.”
Attorney General William Barr announced “Operation LeGend” on June 8, stating it would help stop violent crime in Kansas City. However, some responded to the operation with doubt at a time when law enforcement has come under scrutiny.
“It was very obvious to not only Kansas City, but Kansas City leadership that they didn’t consult anyone from the community or elected officials,” activist Justice Horn told FOX4 the day after the announcement.
However, Mayor Lucas said that he has talked with local activists and leaders. Garrison also said that the additional forces will be used to supplement local law enforcement.
“It is not about troops. It is not about tanks,” Garrison said. “This is not about a federal takeover. The local law enforcement is in the lead.”
Garrison said more than 400 federal agents are already here, and the additional forces would just supplement what’s already happening. He said that each agency has specialties that help quell crime.
“FBI is well known for their strength in conducting complex investigations. The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) brings just an amazing level of technical ability… DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is excellent in identifying those actors who, as you can see in the stats, are related to those incidents of drug-related violence. The U.S. Marshals Service is excellent in tracking down wanted fugitives,” Garrison said. “We’re trying to use evidence-based, targeted enforcements against the most prolific, violent offenders.”
Lucas also said that his office is working to supplement law enforcement with other methods.
“My office is also working with the Department of Justice to try to obtain grants related to mental health treatment, to help find grants to help conflict resolution, de-escalation, so many important goals in connection to what we do,” Lucas said. “But we also know that we need to find justice for families and justice for victims.”
Temple said that Kansas City just needs help. She said this operation is necessary, but she also said Kansas City residents need to fight against violence.
“It’s going to take a community to step up. I’ve been saying this for many years. Until we address us, nothing’s going to change,” she said. “Let’s embrace this operation. Let’s embrace more law enforcement coming to help our police department because they need help.”