- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The murder rate in Chicago has dropped 50% since the Justice Department started Operation Legend in July, Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday.

More than 500 people in Chicago have been arrested and 124 individuals have been charged with federal crimes since the crime-fighting program began nearly five weeks ago, Mr. Barr said.

The arrests have helped reduce Chicago’s murder rate to the lowest it has been since April, he said.

“The bottom line is that Operation Legend has played a critical role in cutting Chicago’s murder rate in half since before the operation,” Mr. Barr told reporters during a press conference in Chicago.

In the first weeks of Operation Legend in Chicago, murders dropped by 50% over the previous five weeks and August recorded a 45% decrease in murders compared to July and 35% decline compared to June, Mr. Barr said.

Roughly 400 federal agents are working in Chicago as part of Operation Legend, including at least 200 who were already there but had their roles repurposed. The remaining 200 agents were already working there.

Operation Legend launched on July 8 to join federal authorities with state and local officers to fight violent crime in select cities across the country. It was expanded to Chicago on July 22.

The initiative is named in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old who was shot and killed while he slept in his family’s apartment on June 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Last month, federal prosecutors filed murder charges against his suspected killer, Ryson Ellis.

Operation Legend has sent federal agents to nine cities, including Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit and Cleveland. The effort has caught more than 2,000 suspects, including 592 defendants who have been charged with federal crimes.

Operation Legend initially met resistance from Chicago officials who worried the officers would use the same heavy-handed tactics on display in Portland, Oregon.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, at the time said she would be firm against using that type of force. But she agreed to allow federal agents into Chicago, saying they were not military troops but law enforcement personnel to support existing infrastructure.

Mr. Barr declined to criticize her reluctance at the press conference, saying Ms. Lightfoot and President Trump talked and addressed any concerns.

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