United States Attorney General William Barr announced that Operation Legend — a coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal agents aid and assist state and local police — has cut the murder rate in Chicago “in half” and has effectively “reversed” the city’s surge in violence.
In a press conference in the Windy City Wednesday, Barr touted the success of the operation in several cities in which it has been implemented, but said that the results have been “perhaps most dramatic” in Chicago since it was launched there in late July.
“The results of those actions speak for themselves,” the attorney general said. “Over the first five weeks of Operation Legend in Chicago, murders dropped by 50% over the previous five weeks. August ultimately saw a 45% decrease in murders compared to July, and a 35% decrease compared to June.”
In the weeks and months before the operation was launched, Chicago had been plagued with a historic rise in violent crime. Nearly every conceivable category of criminal activity had experienced increases — including murder, shootings, looting, and vandalism. Many worried that the situation would continue to spiral without a more expansive police presence.
Now, with the addition of federal assistance, Barr said, the city’s murder rate is at its lowest since April, as the operation has successfully cut the rate “roughly in half since before the operation.”
Since July 22, the federal government has assigned 400 agents to Chicago and granted over $10 million to the city’s police as part of the operation, Barr noted. That money has been used to advance the department’s law enforcement technology and allow for the hiring of 75 more local police officers.
The operation, which was first launched in Kansas City, Missouri, and named after a 4-year-old boy, LeGend Taliferro, who was murdered there, has been implemented in several violence-plagued cities around the country, including St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis, and Milwaukee.
In all, approximately 1,000 federal agents have been deployed around the country as part of the operation, which has resulted in 2,500 individuals being arrested and more than 600 facing federal charges.
“Bringing federal charges is significant,” noted Barr. “Because defendants arrested for violent crimes are often detained before trial, unlike state defendants who are too often released.”
“In addition, federal defendants will face serious sentences if convicted, with a real possibility of long-term imprisonment … knowing that, many of the arrestees cooperate with the government and lead to even more violent offenders,” he added.
“In short the basic premise of Operation Legend is that by taking chronic violent criminals off the street, we will force crime rates down,” Barr said. “And the strategy is working.”
During the press conference, Barr also took shots at those who have engaged in anti-law enforcement efforts around the country, such as “denigrating, demonizing, and defunding” police even as crime was on the rise.
As this year’s surge in crime continues in many Democrat-controlled cities, Barr said he hopes that more coordination between federal and local law enforcement will be established.