KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – “Operation: LeGend” is a federal effort of several agencies to reduce crime as Kansas City sees record homicide cases.
“Just to give you an idea of what is possible, the FBI went in strong into Kansas City and in two weeks, we’ve had 200 arrests,” United States Attorney General William Barr said.
The country’s top cop, William Barr later said his numbers were wrong. Now tweets from the Western District U.S. Attorney’s Office say there have been more than 50 arrests involving drugs and some guns a number they expect to grow daily. KCTV5 News reached out to the office for details.
A spokesman said they could not provide more information Wednesday but did say later in the week they will release an update.
Former FBI Special Agent Michael Tabman has worked on these task forces in the past.
“In a case such as this task force, these agencies could have come to the task force already having arrest warrants or search warrants ready to go, but they did it under the rubric of the task force and that would pump up the numbers and give it a very good beginning,” Retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Tabman said.
“Operation: LeGend” was born out of the unsolved homicide of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro.
Data from the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department on July 21 shows 42 homicides ended in charges filed. On Wednesday, data shows 47 homicides have been cleared. The department says increase cannot be directly attributed to “Operation: LeGend.”
“So we look at arrests, but we should look at the number of convictions we’re getting out of that. We should look at the number of guns taken off the streets, we should look at the drugs taken off the streets, we should look at the number of homicides and violent crimes solved and that does not always result in convictions,” Tabman said.
This operation is focused on locking people up who commit crimes, some critics say this common approach has proven to be ineffective in reducing crime long term.
These task forces are not new. Several have been implemented in the past in Kansas City, but some say reducing crime takes more than just locking up the bad guys.
Aim4Peace program manager Rashid Junaid at a health department initiative wants to see local, state and federal officials take a different approach to reducing crime.
“We need to focus more on finding ways to prevent people from falling into these lifestyles,” Junaid said.
Junaid says Aim4Peace focuses on conflict resolution, reducing retaliation and offering alternative solutions to crime, but he says options are limited with a slim budget. The city budget shows $1.2 million allocated to Aim4Peace compared to more than $270 million for the police department.
“I think there needs to be a balanced approach. I think we have to have law enforcement, but we have to have prevention as well programs for young people who may be doing the killing,” Junaid said.
“They’re not there for the purpose of making these social science determinations as to what will reduce crime and I’m not minimizing the importance of that, this is very important and how we will get to the root of reducing crime but that’s not within the scope of these task forces are meant to do,” Tabman said.
Junaid believes “Operation: LeGend” will result in more arrests without long term results but he did offer solutions.
“We have to work on the hope and building the hope and showing people there’s a better way,” Junaid said.
Taliferro’s family says they are satisfied with the federal efforts so far. KCTV5 News hopes to get more details about the arrests stemming from the operation before the end of the week.