Trump Administration Launches ‘Operation Legend’ to Stem Surge in Violent Crime

Federal reinforcements to initially help 'crisis' in Kansas City
By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
July 9, 2020Updated: July 9, 2020

The Trump administration is deploying federal law enforcement agents to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of a program dubbed “Operation Legend” that’s aimed to help stem a recent surge in violent crime across the country, Attorney General William Barr announced July 8.

The program is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who died after being shot as he slept in his home in Kansas City on June 29.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said July 8 that the program is a response to a letter sent to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who indicated that the city is “at a crisis point.” In a statement, the Justice Department said the initiative was created as a result of President Donald Trump’s promise to assist cities that have been hit by a recent string of violence.

Kansas City has reported 99 homicides this year, as of July 8. With nearly half a year left, that puts the city on track to far exceed last year’s total of 150.

Under the program, Barr will, in the coming weeks, direct more than 100 federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to the region to assist and work alongside state and local officials and law enforcement agencies to combat the surge of violent crime.

McEnany said they will be on the ground in the next 10 days.

Barr in a statement described the fatal shooting of LeGend last month as “a horrifying reminder that violent crime left unchecked is a threat to us all and cannot be allowed to continue.”

The 4-year-old was shot around 2:30 a.m. as he slept, and he died shortly after.

LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was shot and killed on June 29th in Kansas City, Mo. (DOJ/Supplied)

McEnany noted that LeGend survived heart surgery as an infant before he “tragically lost his life.”

“We at the federal government want to make sure that never happens and use our resources to the fullest extent of the law to ensure individuals and young children like LeGend are able to live their lives and live so peacefully,” she said.

“President Trump has made clear: the federal government stands ready and willing to assist any of our state and local law enforcement partners across the nation responding to violent crime,” Barr said, noting that Kansas City is currently experiencing its worst homicide rate in its history.

Responding to news of the new initiative, Lucas said the effort “can be only one tool out of many” needed in addressing the problem of violent crime.

“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,’” he said in a statement.

“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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.