Federal officials late last week announced an initiative, Operation Legend, to fight violent crime in Memphis and St. Louis.
“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens. Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Memphis and St. Louis, two cities experiencing increases in violent crime that no resident of those cities should have to accept as part of everyday life,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.
“For decades, the Department of Justice has achieved significant success when utilizing our anti-violent crime task forces and federal law enforcement agents to enforce federal law and assist American cities that are experiencing upticks in violent crime. The Department of Justice’s assets will supplement local law enforcement efforts, as we work together to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off of our streets.”
In Memphis, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending 16 federal investigators to the city on temporary assignment for 90 days. This, followed by 24 permanent agent assignments from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the press release said.
“Under the leadership of Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, these investigators will complement the work already underway by existing joint federal, state and local task forces focused on combating violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking organizations,” according to the press release.
“The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make available $200,000 to support Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts in Memphis in addition to the prior BJA grant funding award of $1.4 million to Shelby County to provide manpower, technology, equipment, and support for the sustained efforts Legend Task Force, including overtime funding for the Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MGU) and partner agency officers; a prosecutor for the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office to handle operation arrests vertically through the state criminal justice system to ensure that arrests are followed by strategic prosecution; vehicles for MGU operations; and technological solutions to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent offenders.”
The COPS Office has also made approximately $9.8 million available to the Memphis Police Department to fund the hiring of 50 officers, the press release said.
“The Department has also provided assistance to Memphis through the Joint Law Enforcement Operations (JLEO) fund to assist reimbursement of local law enforcement serving as federal task force officers with FBI, ATF, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service,” according to the press release.
“The city will receive $100,000 from ATF to help local agencies defray costs associated with installing or maintaining shot detection technology.”
Federal officials named Operation Legend after LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City, the press release said.
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