ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A new effort to combat violent crime in major U.S. cities by bringing in agents from the FBI and other federal agencies has been signed off on in St. Louis.
Operation Legend is named in honor of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. It's described as a targeted enforcement of violent crime by federal agents and has been deployed in places like Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson supports the decision for sending more than 50 federal investigators to the city, citing "a serious shortage of approximately 140 officers" in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
"Over the last few months, we’ve seen an unprecedented surge in violent and deadly crime plaguing our City. During the months of June and July alone, our police officers responded to 85 homicides and numerous other non-fatal shootings," Krewson said in a statement. "This continued violence is cutting lives short and devastating hundreds of victims, family members, and loved ones. We must hold the perpetrators of this crime accountable."
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner expressed some concern with the plan, although says she welcomes the chance "to prosecute individual drivers of crime" with the help of the U.S. Attorney's office.
"I am, however, concerned about bringing more federal agents to the City of St. Louis given their recent behavior in Portland, Oregon, where officers stopped people without probable cause and interrupted peaceful protestors without warning," Gardner says. "My office will hold law enforcement agencies accountable if they violate the rights of people who live in our community.
In a response to KMOX, St Louis Public Safety Director Judge Jimmie Edwards said, he will be expanding his current federal partnerships in order to help address violent crime including the uptick in homicides.
All those at Thursday's press conference stressed these federal agents will not be used during protests around the city. They'll be here only to focus on violent offenders.
Here's the full statement by Krewson: