* Press release…
John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today joined Attorney General William P. Barr and President Donald J. Trump to announce the expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago.
Operation Legend is a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime. The Operation was first launched on July 8, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo., as a result of President Trump’s promise to assist America’s cities that are plagued by recent violence. Operation Legend is named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29, 2020, in Kansas City. The first federal arrest under Operation Legend was announced on July 20, 2020.
As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General Barr directed the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA, and ATF to significantly increase resources into Chicago, as well as Albuquerque, N.M., in the coming weeks to help state and local officials fight high levels of violent crime, particularly gun violence.
“A top priority as federal prosecutors is to reduce violent crime, particularly in a large urban area like Chicago,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “As part of Operation Legend, additional federal resources will assist our office and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to increase prosecutions of trigger-pullers, drug traffickers, carjackers, and those who illegally traffic, use, and possess firearms. We will use these new resources and every other available federal law enforcement tool to reduce the unacceptable level of violent crime in Chicago.”
“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Attorney General Barr. “Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Chicago and Albuquerque to protect the residents of those cities from senseless acts of deadly violence by targeting those involved in gang activity and those who use guns to commit violent crime. 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 which 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.”
Chicago is currently experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with homicides up 51% over 2019. Over the weekend of July 17, more than 60 people were shot in the city of Chicago, with 14 fatalities. Similarly, Albuquerque is currently on pace to break 2019’s record for homicides in the city. On the weekend of July 10, there were four murders in Albuquerque within a 24-hour period.
In Chicago, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending more than 100 federal investigators from the FBI, DEA, and ATF to the city. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Lausch, these investigators will complement the work already underway by existing joint federal, state and local task forces focused on combatting Chicago’s violent criminals, gangs, and drug trafficking organizations. The investigatory efforts will be advanced by more than 100 members of the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Task Force, which will direct violent fugitive apprehension operations within Chicago to identify wanted gang members, violent criminals, and firearms violators. The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is also committing 100 agents, already stationed in Chicago, to Operation Legend. HSI agents will conduct investigations into gangs, narcotics traffickers, violent offenders, and firearms traffickers.
To further support the Chicago Police Department in reducing violent crime, ATF has deployed its national Crime Gun Intelligence Mobile Command Vehicle to assist local law enforcement with analysis of crime scenes and spent shell casings through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). ATF will also make available additional resources to assist the city of Chicago in providing timely, efficient analysis of ballistic evidence from shootings in order to quickly disrupt violent criminals and prosecute those prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law. The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make available $3.5 million in funding to reimburse the Chicago Police Department and City of Chicago for the work of local law enforcement on the federal task forces supporting Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts. The COPS Office has also made $9.375 million available to the Chicago Police Department to fund the hiring of 75 officers.
I’ll post react if it comes in.
…Adding… Durbin and Duckworth…
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statement regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) announcing an expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago, Illinois. Operation Legend is DOJ’s violent crime reduction initiative with the stated goal to provide support and assistance to state and local law enforcement partners as they work to combat violent crime, and gun violence in particular. Durbin and Duckworth are set to speak with U.S. Attorney John Lausch about Operation Legend today.
“After needless threats from the President, we’re relieved the Trump Administration says they plan to work with local officials and authorities in Chicago rather than undermine local law enforcement and endanger our civil rights, as their agents have done in Portland. We will continue closely monitoring the Administration’s efforts to ensure they follow through with this commitment.
“More than three years ago, we sent President Trump a letter suggesting a range of ways in which the Federal Government could work in partnership with local officials to provide support and resources to assist in public safety, violence prevention, and economic development efforts in Chicago. While we are hopeful that today’s announcement means the Administration has reconsidered and will take a more positive approach, President Trump still has not replied to our letter nor followed through with our suggestions. We reiterate that these steps would be more effective in reducing violence in Chicago than any effort the Administration may take to replicate the destabilizing role it played in Portland.”
In their 2017 letter which they reiterated yesterday, Durbin and Duckworth recommended that the Trump Administration take steps to assist local violence prevention efforts, including:
• enhancing Department of Justice (DOJ) programs that improve community policing;
• directing DOJ to promote mentoring and job training programs for youth and formerly incarcerated individuals;
• improving mentoring and violence prevention initiatives and boosting funding for recidivism reduction programs;
• directing DOJ to abide by its commitment to help implement policing reforms recommended by the Department’s Civil Rights Division;
• closing gaps in the FBI gun background check system and in federal firearm laws that enable straw purchasers and gun traffickers to flood Chicago’s streets with illicit guns;
• prioritizing career and youth training programs to address lack of economic opportunity in neighborhoods hit hard by violence; and
• redirecting resources that are being devoted to construction of a border wall and committing those resources instead to the efforts discussed above.
The expansion of Operation Legend will consist of an increased federal law enforcement presence in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in Chicago, Illinois. This federal law enforcement presence will consist of experienced investigative agents from FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals, and HSI, focused on providing support to existing violent crime task forces.
*** UPDATE *** Mayor Lightfoot…
The President reached out to Mayor Lightfoot this evening to confirm that he plans to send federal resources to Chicago to supplement ongoing federal investigations pertaining to violent crime. The conversation was brief and straightforward. Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.