President Trump announced Wednesday that he is expanding the Justice Department’s “Operation Legend” program to Chicago and Albuquerque, days after threatening federal intervention to confront violence in American cities.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday July 22, 2020 that federal agents will surge into Chicago, Illinois and Albuquerque, New Mexico in an effort to combat rising crime. Additional agents will also be assigned in Kansas City, Missouri.
Usually, the Justice Department sends agents with its own resources, such as from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). However, the surge effort will include at least 100 Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers working in the region. HSI locally works on investigation for drug trafficking and child exploitation investigations. Officials have also mentioned this week that local law enforcement can be deputized to participate in Homeland Security operations.
Portland & Kansas City
Hundreds of federal agents each have already have been sent to Portland, Oregon to protect federal property and monuments and Kansas City, Missouri, to promote law and order following a record rise in violence following the shooting death of a 4 year-old boy, LeGend Taliferro, while he slept in an apartment in Kansas City. Operation Legend, was named in his honor. U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison said that an additional 225 federal agents from the FBI, DEA, ATF and the U.S. Marshals Service are joining 400 agents already working and living in the Kansas City area.
The Justice Department will reimburse Chicago $3.5 million for local law enforcement’s assignments on the federal task force. Chicago also received $9.3 million to hire 75 new officers under a separate federal fund. In Chicago, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by assigning more than 100 federal investigators from the FBI, DEA, and ATF, who will complement existing joint federal, state and local task forces already working to combat violent crime in Chicago, according to U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch. FBI, DEA and ATF will support gang and drug trafficking investigations. More than 100 U.S. Marshals will “direct violent fugitive apprehension operations,” according to Lausch.
“At least 414 people have been murdered in this city (Chicago) this year — a roughly 50 percent increase over last year. More than 1,900 people have been shot. These are numbers that aren’t even to be believed. Yesterday alone, 23 people were shot in Chicago, including at least 15 who were shot in a merciless onslaught of gunfire outside a funeral home. Sixty-three people were shot in this city this past weekend and at least 12 people were killed. Over the 4th of July weekend nearly 80 people were shot and 17 were killed. Over Father’s Day weekend 104 people were shot and 15 were killed, including five young children. And the last weekend in May saw the city’s deadliest day on record — 18 murders in 24 hours.”
— President Donald J. Trump
Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot cautioned they wouldn’t support federal agents being assigned to independently patrol Chicago’s streets, or make arrests of protesters, as in Portland. Gov. Pritzker said Wednesday July 22, 2020 that he welcomed federal help, if the federal agents supporting existing federal and local law enforcement.
“I welcome the support for our local and state efforts to reduce crime. But it’s this other thing that’s going on, where people are wearing camouflaged uniforms with no identification about who they are, claiming to be protecting federal buildings, when in fact they’re going blocks and blocks away from federal buildings to do things like throw people into vans and arrest them without telling them why they’re being arrested and then keeping them for hours before letting them go. That is not something that is acceptable in the state of Illinois or the city of Chicago.”
— Gov. JB Pritzker
After initially opposing any help from the White House, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker undoubtedly faced increased pressure to solve Chicago’s violence problem after a mass shooting outside a funeral service at 79th Street and Carpenters Street Tuesday July 21, 2020 about 6:24 p.m.
“I’ve been very clear that we welcome actual partnership. But we do not welcome dictatorship. We do not welcome authoritarianism, and we do not welcome unconstitutional arrest and detainment of our residents. That is something I will not tolerate.”
— Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Lightfoot also accused the President of using examples of recent shooting deaths of a 13 year-old girl and 14 year-old girl in the city as a publicity stunt. Mayor Lightfoot said. “There’s no good will from this president.” President Donald Trump, as part of a Law-and-Order platform, has linked the growing violence in the streets with protests over racial injustice.
While unable to stop Chicago’s uptick in violence, Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot reacted to President Trump’s decision to send federal agents to Chicago, saying Trump’s announcement in Washington D.C. in the presence of families of Chicago victims was a political stunt.
Two dozen agents are being sent to Albuquerque, and the administration provided $1.5 million in funds for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department to hire five new deputies and $9.4 million for 40 new Albuquerque officers.
Democratic elected officials in New Mexico were cautioning Trump against plans to send federal agents to the state, and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called on Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales to resign for “inviting the President’s stormtroopers into Albuquerque.”
“Instead of collaborating with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Sheriff is inviting the President’s stormtroopers into Albuquerque.”
— Democratic Senator Manny Gonzales
Federal gun crimes can carry much stiffer penalties than state crimes while larger-scale federal investigations can cross state lines and international lines to Mexico, for example.
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