The Trump administration will expand its deployment of federal police to two Midwestern cities to work with local and state law enforcement departments following upticks in violent crime.
The Justice Department announced Thursday afternoon the expansion of Operation Legend to Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri. The operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Missouri, and represents a federal effort to work with law enforcement in cities and counties that have seen higher rates of serious crimes committed in the past several months.
“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,” said Attorney General William Barr 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.”
Homicides in Memphis have jumped 49% while gun crimes are up 23% compared to the same period last year. In St. Louis, homicides are up 33%.
Federal law enforcement deployed to both cities are Justice Department personnel and Department of Homeland Security agents. DHS sent some federal officers to Portland in June to help defend federal facilities under attack by rioters, which was not part of Operation Legend. Justice Department agencies that will be assisted by personnel sent to St. Louis and Memphis in the next several weeks include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Memphis will receive 16 federal investigators for a three-month deployment, and then 24 agents will be permanently assigned. Some agents will come from Homeland Security Investigations, which is an office within the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Justice Department’s Cops Office has funded the hiring of 50 new Memphis police officers. St. Louis will receive Justice Department law enforcement officers and 50 DHS agents.
To date, the operation has been expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Detroit, and Milwaukee. The campaign was named after LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old from Kansas City who was fatally shot while sleeping on June 29.