Officials update on Operation LeGend, talk longterm results

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison provides an update on Operation LeGend on Sept. 28. Photo by Abby Hoover

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison, Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas, and Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith discussed the status of Operation LeGend at Kansas City Fire Department Station No. 18 in a joint press conference Monday.

Operation LeGend was named for four-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was killed in late June. The operation was implemented in response to an unprecedented level of gun violence and homicides in Kansas City.

Station 18, at Linwood and Indiana, is where one-year-old Tyron Payton was brought following a triple shooting in the 2900 block of East 33rd Street on Sept. 21. The fatal shooting made Payton Kansas City’s 148th homicide victim of the year.

Stuffed animals are left outside KCFD Station 18 following the death of a toddler in the area on Sept. 21. Photo by Abby Hoover

In 2019, there were 153 homicides in Kansas City, which Garrison predicts will be surpassed in 2020 for a new record.

The operation brought approximately 200 federal agents from the DEA, ATF, Marshal Service and FBI to Kansas City, resulting in 518 arrests. The agents and local law enforcement also seized 176 firearms, large quantities of illegal drugs and several stolen vehicles during the operation.

Among those arrested since Operation LeGend launched, 126 are federal defendants in the Western District of Missouri, with additional federal cases referred to U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Kansas and Texas. Of those, 70 were charged with firearms-related offenses, 45 were charged with drug trafficking offenses and 11 were charged with other violent crimes.

The remaining arrests include 37 for homicide cases, including a suspect in the murder of Taliferro who is being charged in state court. Smith said 29 homicide cases were cleared during Operation LeGend, some of which are from previous years.

“They have since returned to their home districts after deployment of approximately 60 days, but Operation LeGend is not over, it’s simply entering into a new phase,” Garrison said Monday.

That new phase includes the FBI doubling the number of agents working violent crime cases and embedded agents with the KCPD violent crime unit. Additionally, the ATF has added a new unit that is permanently embedded with the assault squad. Garrison said intelligence has been gained and shared among law enforcement agencies to improve future investigations.
Garrison said the operation was successful in building trust in the community and keeping promises that were made to the people of Kansas City.

“I hope that by keeping the promises we made, by doing what we said we would do, we’ve established a level of trust and credibility that will continue to bear fruit,” Garrison said.

Garrison said federal agents worked alongside local law enforcement in a supportive role. He said Operation LeGend was executed as promised as a short-term, high-impact strategy to freeze the escalation of violent crime in response to the record number of homicides in Kansas City this year, adding that the operation has had a significant impact on violent crime in Kansas City.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas gives an update on Operation LeGend on Sept. 28. Photo by Abby Hoover

“We’re going to continue to work together no matter political background, no matter the name of the operation, no matter what it is we are tasked with doing to make sure that young people have the opportunity to grow up in safety in Kansas City, to make sure we have a chance to celebrate their successes, not to look at all to many of the challenges we have each and every day,” Lucas said.

Despite what he called accusations of a federal occupation, Garrison said the agents worked cooperatively with both local law enforcement and local community leaders, and his promise that there would be “no storm troopers patrolling the streets of Kansas City” was kept. He noted that there have been many demonstrations in Kansas City throughout the operation with zero interference by federal agents, adding that there was no profiling or checkpoints conducted.

“Unless you were engaged in criminal misconduct or were in the vicinity of someone who was, you likely never saw any of the agents that were sent to Kansas City,” Garrison said.

Smith noted that during the 10-week period when Operation LeGend was in effect, July 8 through Sept. 16, homicides in Kansas City were down 18%, non-fatal shootings were down 23%, aggravated assaults decreased by 47%, armed robberies were down 5% and domestic violence decreased 17%, as compared to the 10 weeks preceding July 8.

“I think what is encouraging, and with the community’s support, we have crime trending in the right direction, in the downward trend rather than the upward trend,” Smith said, despite the initial unknowns.

Smith said he believes the joint operation was successful, and Kansas City was chosen because of KCPD’s good cooperation with federal agencies.

Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith provides an update on Operation LeGend on Sept. 28. Photo by Abby Hoover

“I don’t consider a certain number of arrests or a number of guns seized to be the measure of success, our measure of success is lives saved,” Garrison said.

Garrison said he believes the operation in Kansas City created a model to follow for agencies in other cities where the operation has expanded.

The Kansas City metro has received over $1 million in grant funding from the Department of Justice to go toward personnel and equipment necessary to fight violent crime, Garrison said.

“I’ve also said, from the start of Operation LeGend, that law enforcement would not be the sole solution to violent crime,” Garrison added. “Violence is a community issue, and requires a community-wide response.”

Lucas said all Kansas Citians should see it as a priority to make sure residents of this city, particularly children, are safe, and should be outraged by the homicide rate. He asked that those with information about violent crimes should speak up and said the department can always use more tips.

“You can replace Rick Smith, Quinton Lucas and Tim Garrison tomorrow and we’ll still have this problem if we don’t have the community buy-in, if we don’t have all the support that we need to try to address these issues long-term,” Lucas said.

With city departments facing impending budget cuts due to loss of revenue as a result of COVID-19, Smith said taking away resources would have a huge affect on the department’s ability to respond to certain things. He said he thinks the pandemic had a hand in the surge of violent crime.

“I think what we saw here is what added resources can do when you bring 200 extra bodies, brains, thinkers, resources,” Smith said. “It’s not that we couldn’t handle the work, but look at how much faster the work happened and how much better the work happened overall because we had these resources.”

Lucas commended the KCPD and noted that each year he has been in office in Kansas City, he has voted to increase the police department’s budget, and he said there will be a lot of discussion on the budget with departments before the budget vote in February or March.

“I think we all recognize that drastic cuts, particularly quickly, aren’t necessarily the most prudent way to address the concerns at edge for Kansas City, and so we will work to make sure whatever we do is responsible,” Lucas said.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Show Me KC Schools, Samuel U. Rodgers Host Second Bounce Back to School Event

    August 6th, 2022
    by

    Back for its second year, Show Me KC Schools and Samuel U. Rodgers will host the Bounce Back to School […]


    Kansas City’s Most Wanted

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    KC Crime Stoppers has partnered with The Kansas City’s Northeast News to help track local KC individuals on the Kansas […]


    LEC advocates for more Latinx educators

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed Edgar Palacios, President/CEO founded LEC (Latinx Education Collaborative) in 2018. His goal for his non-profit organization is […]


    Knowledge is Power Program moves forward

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed KIPP: Endeavor Academy, a tuition-free, open-enrollment public school, opened its doors in Kansas City in 2007 as […]


    Janet Raymer named 2021-2022 Frontier School District Teacher of the Year

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale This 2021-2022 Frontier School District Teacher of the Year award was granted to Janet Raymer, a seventh-grade […]


    Frontier receives $250,000 Kauffman grant

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed The Frontier School of Innovation, through the New Frontier Educational Foundation, will benefit from the Kauffman Foundation’s […]


    Gordon Parks Elementary School strives to elevate student success

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Being one of the first charter schools in the Kansas City, Mo., area, Gordon Parks Elementary School […]


    Headstart Home-Based open opportunities for all parents

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale The Family Conservancy (TFC) has continually created sustainable education, and resource programs to provide equitable opportunities for […]


  • Burned mobile home mess abated by county

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    A little over a day after the charred remains of an abandoned mobilehome moved from the old Heart Village Mobile […]


    Holy Cross Catholic School to break ground on new Community Center in 2022

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Holy Cross School on Quincy Avenue plans to break ground this summer on the construction of a […]


    2022 Back To School issue

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below! Enter your email address and click on […]


    Election results of note from the August 2nd Primary Election

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    The results are in from yesterday’s Primary election and the resultspromise some highly contested battles shaping up for the November […]


    Chamber business ambassador makes long awaited trip home to Africa

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Abby Hoover In life, there are challenges and there is progress. For Rol Deng Diing, Ambassador of Business Communications […]


    Reducing the energy burden for low-income homeowners

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    The goal of the Share the Sun program is to reduce the energy burden for low- and moderate-income homeowners in […]


    Sam Davis ensures no holes in customers’ coverage

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    Shelter Insurance agent Sam Davis has been serving residents of Northeast Kansas City for 29 years, and he isn’t showing […]


    Youth Court provides legal guidance for the youth

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed Kansas City’s Youth Court is a peer court for teenagers, with young offenders having their cases heard […]


    Historic Northeast Homes Tour returns

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

    By Aniaya Reed After the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, the Northeast Kansas City Historical Society (NEKCHS) was […]


    Community Calendar

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    8/5 – Melissa and Company will bring Country Music to Friday in the Park at North Kansas City’s Festival Pavilion […]


    Preliminary results in two local races of note

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    Current Results from the Kansas City Election Board Preliminary results from Kansas City polling places from the Kansas City Election […]


    Election Day!

    August 2nd, 2022
    by

    Polls are open. Please exercise your constitutional right to vote today. Important decisions will be made today at the ballot […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?

    Remember This?

    August 3rd, 2022
    by

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.