US attorney: Feds will be identifiable in Kansas City action

Associated Press
Protesters lie in the street to block a downtown Kansas City, Mo. intersection Friday, July 17, 2020. Demonstrators were demanding police reforms and an end to Operation Legend, a federal initiative that will deploy 225 federal law enforcement agents to combat crime in the city.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The top federal prosecutor in Kansas City said any federal agents involved in an operation to reduce violent crime in the area will be clearly identifiable when making arrests, unlike what has been seen in Portland, Oregon.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison said in a written statement Monday that a new federal effort called Operation LeGend in Kansas City is in response to an increase in violent crime, not local protests, The Kansas City Star reported.

"These agents won't be patrolling the streets," Garrison said. "They won't replace or usurp the authority of local officers."

His statement comes amid protests nationwide against excessive police force following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In Portland, the actions of federal officers outside the U.S. courthouse — hailed by President Donald Trump, but done without local consent — have resulted in clashes between protesters and camouflaged, unidentified agents.

Operation LeGend — named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while sleeping in a Kansas City apartment late last month — was announced on July 8 at the White House. Attorney General William Barr said he would send federal law enforcement officers into Kansas City to quell a "surge of violent crime." 

"When they are making arrests or executing warrants, these federal agents will be clearly identified by their agency's visible badges or insignia," Garrison said. "The only people federal agents will be removing from the street are those they arrest in the course of their investigations of violent crimes."

Garrison has said that the additional 225 federal agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will join 400 agents already working and living in the Kansas City area.

Those outside federal agents are now in Kansas City and the operation is "engaged, is rolling out" said Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. 

Garrison's office on Monday filed federal gun charges against a Kansas City, Missouri, man in the first — and so far only — arrest under Operation LeGend, he said. 

Monty W. Ray, 20, was charged with being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms. 

An affidavit filed in that case by an Independence, Missouri, police detective indicated that the U.S. Marshals Service worked with local officials to locate Ray, who had active warrants, including one for felony assault against a law enforcement officer.

"A fugitive from justice, driving a stolen vehicle and carrying stolen firearms, is a violent crime waiting to happen," Garrison said in a news release announcing the arrest. "Federal and local law enforcement worked together to bring him to justice and protect our community from violence."