Kim Gardner has 'concerns' with federal help to fight violent crime in STL

U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen was with Gov. Mike Parson and local leaders in the city of St. Louis to sign off on the plan.

Sam Masterson
August 06, 2020 - 4:20 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KFTK) - 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.

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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.

Last month, Kansas City was the first city that the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to send more than 200 agents and law enforcement officials from the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals office to. 

It has netted 97 arrests, the U.S. attorney's office announced last week, citing federal charges in 11 cases, according to KMBC. 

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.

Here's the full statement by Krewson: 

Mayor Krewson's statement on Operation Legend by EntercomSTL on Scribd

Here is the full statement from Gardner: 

"We welcome any partnership with the U.S. Attorney that will strengthen our efforts to make the City of St. Louis safer and more just. This includes collaboration with my office to prosecute individual drivers of crime. In addition, we have identified violence interruption programs, trauma care, mental health services, job training, and education as places where additional resources would make a difference. Federal law enforcement working together to help the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigate and clear the most serious crimes in this community like homicides, which largely remain unsolved, would benefit all in our community.

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. My office will hold law enforcement agencies accountable if they violate the rights of people who live in our community.

We look forward to engaging in productive dialogue and action to make everyone in our city safer."

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