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AG Barr touts Success of Operation Legend in Chicago Press Conference

Attorney General William Barr announced that the murder rate in Chicago dropped by 50% since the launch of Operation Legend launched in July reported the Washington Times.  Barr held a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday concerning the nationwide Justice Department initiative to combat the rise of violent crime in large cities across the country.

Operation Legend is named for 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping in his bed in Kansas City in June.  The DOJ operation has dispatched federal agents to nine cities across the country to aid local law enforcement. 

Barr touted the success of the influx of federal agents into Chicago.  “The results of those actions speak for themselves: 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,” the AG said, according to Fox News.

While Barr stopped short of crediting Operation Legend as the only factor in the drop in murders, he said “I believe that it is an important part of that drop.”

Of all the cities involved in Operation Legend, Barr felt that Chicago may have been the biggest success story so far.  “Operation Legend’s success is perhaps most dramatic here in Chicago,” Barr said. “When the operation was announced on July 22, homicides in the city were up 51% over 2019. Over the previous weekend, more than 60 people had been shot in Chicago, with over a dozen fatalities.”

The DOJ has so far used around 400 federal agents in Chicago, with about half of those agents coming from other areas while the rest were already Chicago-based and were reassigned to Operation Legend.

So far in Chicago Operation Legend has resulted in over 500 arrests and 124 of those arrested now face federal charges.  Barr emphasized the importance of federal versus state charges.  “Bringing federal charges is significant because defendants arrested for violent crimes are often detained before trial, unlike state defendants who are too often released,” he explained. “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.”

Barr also cited figures for Operation Legend in other cities.  Kansas City murders have dropped by 18%, while St. Louis had a decrease of 47% in murders in the month since the operation began in that city.  Detroit’s murders saw a 25% drop in the 7 weeks of the federal operation, Barr said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, and Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown were not at Barr’s press conference.  Lightfoot initially opposed the use of federal agents in Chicago but seemed to soften her objections after conferring with President Donald Trump.  The cooperation between local law enforcement and the federal agents has been a success, Barr said. “This is all about working in partnership with state and local departments and that partnership is working well right now.  I am confident the work we are doing is improving the situation,” he said.

Despite the decrease in homicides recently, Chicago Police Department figures indicate that murders are still up 50% for the entire year to date when compared to last year’s totals.  John Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, explained that while the murder rate for the first half of 2020 had risen each month until July.  “Very clearly Operation Legend helped,” Lausch stated.

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