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Mixed response to federal crime fighting help in Kansas City

July 14, 2020 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new effort to combat violent crime in Kansas City through an infusion of 100 agents from the FBI and other federal agencies has been greeted with a mixture of praise and concern from community leaders.

Supporters of the program that the White House announced last week said the city needs to do more to address crime as its homicide count for the year soars, KCUR reported.


“We need help,” said Rosilyn Temple, executive director of KC Mothers in Charge, which offers support to family members dealing with the pain of losing a loved one.

The new program, called Operation Legend, is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was fatally shot as he slept in his room last month. His death is among about 100 homicides this year in the city.

“Let’s do whatever we have to do to make our city more safe and more peaceful, to save children’s lives,” said Temple, whose own 26-year-old son was slain in 2011 in a case that remains unsolved. “We lost a 4-year-old baby and if we don’t do something now we are going to lose many more.”

But others want funding to focus on community investment and repairing the relationship between police officers and Black residents. Justice Horn organized many of the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Kansas City and is planning a protest in response to the federal initiative.

Horn said the federal government and the KCPD should talk with community leaders before announcing an operation, pointing to the fact that Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas found out about the surge in federal resources on Twitter.

“I personally think this is all politics in that,” Horn said. “That’s all they care about because if they really cared, they would’ve talked to the community, talked to elected officials and even talked to the mayor of Kansas City.”

Both Horn and Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council Executive Director Karen Boyd said additional support should come in the form of funding for programs focused on social services, mental health and poverty.

“It’s not going to solve anything,” Boyd said. “It’s a smokescreen, quite frankly. When are we going to deal with root causes?”

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri spokesman Don Ledford said the focus of Operation Legend will be on homicides and violent crime.

“They will clearly not be conducting ‘routine street patrol’ but be more involved with investigations and prosecution aspects of combating violent crime,” Kansas City Police Capt. David Jackson said in an email.