Residents question claims of Operation LeGend’s success as KC homicides climb

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Monday afternoon, officials said after about 60 days with federal agents in Kansas City, crime is trending down and Operation Breakthrough made major strides.

But not all residents believe there’s been much of an impact.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison and KCPD Chief Richard Smith gathered outside Kansas City Fire Station No. 18 to give an update on the federal initiative now that federal agents have left the city.

It’s the same fire station where 22-month-old Tyron Payton‘s parents brought him after they were all shot. No one has been charged in the boy’s death yet.

The three local officials said Operation LeGend was a success, but they still have work to do.

“This is not a victory lap. There is too much work to do,” Garrison said. “We cannot arrest and prosecute our way out of this problem. This is a problem that needs participation from all members of our community, law enforcement and non-law enforcement.”

The federal initiative resulted in more than 500 arrests and 176 firearms seized. Of the arrests, prosecutors have charged 70 with firearms-related offenses, 45 with drug trafficking offenses and 11 with other violent crimes.

Lucas said community involvement is the key to solving these crimes.

“You can replace Rick Smith, Quinton Lucas and Tim Garrison tomorrow, and we’ll still have this problem if we don’t have the community buy in,” he said.

But some Kansas Citians said they don’t see a difference.

“It’s shootings at the same place, and they ain’t doing nothing about it,” resident Leonard Brigac said. “So that’s how I feel. They ain’t doing nothing about it to be honest.”

Damon Daniel, president of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, said he doesn’t think the numbers are adding up.

“I don’t know how the chief could say there has been a 23% decrease in homicides when we’re already almost, you know, 20 more than what we’ve had in years past,” Daniel said.

There have been 145 homicides so far in 2020 as of Monday, compared to 114 on this same date in 2019 and 99 homicides in 2018.

Smith said although federal agents have left Kansas City, while they were here, they trained KCPD detectives on methods that will help them more efficiently combat violent crime in Kansas City.

Lucas said the operation has also spurred new law enforcement programs, like Blueprint for Safety, an anti-domestic violence initiative.

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