By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University
The government has an important role in protecting citizens from crime and must respond to evolving crime trends. While governments work to contain the coronavirus pandemic amid economic disruptions and civil unrest, murder rates have risen in many of America’s largest cities.
According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, rates of homicide and gun violence have increased since May. To respond to this violence, Attorney General William Barr announced the launch of Operation Legend in July. Operation Legend is a sustained, coordinated law enforcement initiative that involves all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to combat the recent increase in violent crime.
Kansas City: The Start of Operation Legend
Kansas City has seen an increase of homicides by 40%, compared to this time last year. In Kansas City, which is where Operation Legend began, a four-year-old child named LeGend Taliferro was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning on June 29. Law enforcement authorities chose to name the coordinated federal law enforcement effort after this child.
In addition to the federal law enforcement officers who have been sent to work with local law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri increased the resources from his office to manage the anticipated rise in prosecutions. Within the first 30 days of Operation Legend in Kansas City, there were more than 200 arrests for crimes such as murder, assaults, robberies, and drug trafficking.
The FBI is actively involved in this important effort. In addition to federal law enforcement agents, the FBI has brought in support services to combat crime. These support services include intelligence analysts, digital evidence experts, field office personnel, and other support staff.
Operation Legend’s Expansion to Other Cities
Operation Legend has been expanded to other cities to assist local law enforcement in combatting violent crime. Those cities include Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.
Between July and the end of August, Operation Legend resulted in over 2,000 arrests. In addition, 544 firearms were seized along with over seven kilos of fentanyl, 14 kilos of heroin, 12 kilos of cocaine, and 50 kilos of methamphetamine. Out of the over 2,000 people who were arrested, 147 were arrested for murder and 249 were arrested for firearms offenses. Of these arrests, 476 were charged with federal offenses.
The Benefits of Local and Federal Law Enforcement Coordination
Coordinated efforts between local and federal law enforcement is essential, because the increased resources and investigative tools improve safety for the community and law enforcement officers. The extra manpower and the ability to use resources such as gunshot detection technology in high-crime areas is a useful step in providing a prompt response to gun violence and reducing violent crime. Another advantage to federal law enforcement working in conjunction with local law enforcement involves the apprehension of fugitives who flee the city or state in an effort to evade law enforcement.
The year 2020 has brought enormous challenges for everyone living and working in the United States. But despite the difficulties created by current pandemic, all available law enforcement resources should be used to protect citizens from a surge in violent crime.
About the Author: Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at American Military University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Central America, and Europe on the topics of human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, police responses to domestic terrorism, and various topics in policing. Most recently, he presented at the 2020 International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.