Federal Agents Descend on Kansas City to Combat Unprecedented Murder Spike

Operation Legend named for 4-year-old boy murdered in his sleep

Attorney General William Barr
Attorney General William Barr / Getty Images
July 10, 2020

Attorney General William Barr announced on Wednesday the federal government will send an additional 100 agents to Kansas City in an effort to stop a spike in murders.

Operation Legend will bring additional agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, DEA, and ATF into the city in the coming weeks. The plan is to coordinate the added federal resources with state and local law enforcement to reduce the number of killings and help solve murders already under investigation. Barr said the operation is just the beginning of the Trump administration's planned response to recent upticks in murders in urban areas across the United States.

"President Trump has made clear: the federal government stands ready and willing to assist any of our state and local law enforcement partners across the nation responding to violent crime," the attorney general said in a statement. "Operation Legend will combine federal and local resources to combat the disturbing uptick in violence by surging federal agents and other federal assets into cities like Kansas City, a city currently experiencing its worst homicide rate in its history."

Kansas City has already seen more than 100 homicides this year, a 40 percent jump over the same period last year, according to the Department of Justice. Murders in the city of about 500,000 peaked at 155 in 2017, but the city is on track to far exceed that death toll at the current rate. Kansas City police chief Rick Smith told the Kansas City Star that the violence was "unprecedented."

Barr said the operation is named for a four-year-old boy who was murdered while he slept in his Kansas City home on June 29. LeGend Taliferro is the youngest murder victim in the city this year.

"LeGend’s death is a horrifying reminder that violent crime left unchecked is a threat to us all and cannot be allowed to continue," Barr said.

Taliferro's mother Charron Powell told KCTV that U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison had asked if the government could name the operation after her son. She agreed and hopes the additional federal resources might lead to an arrest in the case as well as an end to the violence in her city.

"I was like, 'yes, let's go ahead and get the groundwork done,'" Powell told the news station. "They need more people on the ground to help us solve murders. My son didn’t even get to make it to kindergarten."