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Operation LeGend federal agents leave Kansas City, also leaving mixed reactions on its efficiency

Operation LeGend firearm charges
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 18:52:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whether Operation LeGend was worth it or not depends on who you ask. The goal is to reduce violent crime, and it seems community leaders still have different ideas on how to get there.

The 200 federal agents sent to Kansas City for Operation LeGend are gone, although they say their work in solving violent crime is not over.

The operation was named after Powell's four-year-old son, LeGend Taliferro. He was shot and killed while sleeping when police say Ryson Ellis opened fire on the house. Ellis is in custody and recently pleaded not-guilty to murder.

"I really feel like it did accomplish a lot," Charron Powell said a day after news of the agents' departure became public. "Yes, we still have things we take care of, but I feel like it's more of a community issue now. They did what they came to do, they supported us in the way they could."

"Just 'cause I'm on the verge of justice, it's a lot of children that have been murdered that they do not have justice," Powell said.

As of September 9, 113 people have been charged with federal crimes since July 8. Agents worked on busting gang members, major drug dealers, and getting illegal guns off the streets.

The US Attorney's office plans to announce updated numbers on Monday.

"We have a heck of lot more work to do," Mayor Quinton Lucas said. "I'm committed to working with our police department, our prosecutors, and everyone in our community to make sure we have a safer place, particularly for our young people."

Stacy Shaw, an attorney and community activist, calls Operation LeGend a gross mis-allocation of resources.

"Even when the federal agents were here, 225 federal agents, we had another 10, 11 murders," Shaw said. "So clearly, that signals that no amount of police presence is going to prevent violence. They can only punish violence."

Shaw stressed that the city and state leadership need to direct more resources to education, housing and mental health services - which is what activists have been demanding for years.

"Because we're involved in this cyclical issue of violence and criminality in our community because the root causes have not been addressed, it doesn't matter how many agents they send. They'll be back next year and the year after that," Shaw said.

A spokesperson for the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department said the partnership with federal agents goes back decades.

"One of the reasons we were selected for Operation Legend is because of our reputation as a positive partner within the ederal system. We will continue that partnership," KCPD Captain Dave Jackson said.

Jackson went on to say, "We have inter-agency task forces for all types of investigations. Financial crimes, narcotics, violent offenders, fugitive apprehension, to name a few. I could/would not speak on specifics but sharing personnel and resources to maximize each agency's resources is probably the best way to describe our collaboration."

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.