With the Kansas City murder rate having doubled from 2018 levels, more than 200 federal agents soon will arrive to investigate unsolved homicides.
The city has reached at least 102 homicides so far this year and is on track to be the most violent year in Kansas City’s history. The figure is about a 35 percent increase over last year’s murder rate and double the 2018 rate. Seventy four percent of the murder victims are black while 75 percent of the suspects are also black.
Tim Garrison, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said on Wednesday that the goal is to identify the most prolific violent offenders and get them off the streets. “An unprecedented spike in violent crime deserves an unprecedented response from government authorities,” he said.
Mayor Quinton Lucas welcomed the news after meeting with black faith leaders as well as community activists. While crime has been inching up in Kansas City the last two years, murders and other violent crimes have spiked since Black Lives Matter protests began May 31. Lucas stated that every week, at least one child is shot in Kansas City and that was one reason he welcomed the assist from the agents who are under the direction of the Trump administration.
The new federal operation, called Operation Legend, was announced last week by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnaney and U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s office. The operation is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, killed last month while he was sleeping. Legend’s family joined Garrison and Mayor Quinton Lucas while the details of the work were laid out in Wednesday’s press conference. Lucas said the operation is about finding justice for victims of violent crime.
“This operation is not tanks in the streets,” he said. “This operation is not a substitute patrol force. This operation is not over-enforcement from federal law enforcement. This is not an operation where anyone is coming to take over the work that either our police department does here locally or other authorities and agencies do.”
The federal agents are from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Gov. Mike Parson on the same day announcing that he is calling state lawmakers back to Jefferson City later this month to address Missouri’s surge in violent crime.
The move is unique in Democrat-controlled cities who have recently turned away federal help, or even asked the federal government to get out. On Thursday, Portland, Oregon’s mayor Ted Wheeler told the President in to “Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city.”
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would file a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection and Federal Protection Service and seek a temporary restraining order against them.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice