Fifty federal officers from different agencies will be assisting St. Louis police to cope with the recent resurgence of violent crime.
Governor Mike Parson attended the press conference in St. Louis Thursday for the extension of a program first tried in Kansas City. He said violent crime continues to be a ‘serious problem in the state.”
“We’ve got to get more resources in here to find violent criminals not only here but across the state. What happens in St. Louis is a huge factor for the entire state. This is not just a St. Louis problem,” Parson said.
In the past year, the governor has put extra state troopers in St. Louis and the state attorney general has been working with U.S. Attorney Jeff Jenson in prosecuting violent offenders.
The federal-state approach in Kansas City was dubbed Operation LeGend for four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while he slept inside his home early on June 29. Other cities like Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee have agreed to a similar partnership.
The U.S Department of Justice is dedicating agents from ATF, FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marshals Service to aid St. Louis. The Bureau of Justice Assistance will offer $1 million to support local law enforcement in shot spotter responses and violent crime investigations
After St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay has been expressing his concern about letting federal agents into the city, U.S. Attorney Jensen insists that this task force is nothing like what happened in Portland, Oregon.
“What Operation LeGend is not, is protection of federal buildings, protection of federal properties. It’s not riot police, it’s not officers wearing fatigues. This is purely a violent crime effort, an effort to reduce the terrible murder rate we’ve seen lately, 53 murders in July in a city of 300,000.” Jensen said.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson confirmed that she welcomes the help because her city has “fewer police officers than we’ve had in 10 to 15 years.”
“This is all about our federal partners here working along with our St. Louis Police Department, side-by-side with our officers in a cooperative and collaborative way to stem violent crime,” she said at the Thursday press conference.
Missouri lawmakers have been meeting in a special session called by the governor to address the state’s surge in homicides and violent crimes. The Senate debated a bill today and the parties clashed over the idea of hiring police officers from outside of a city. St. Louis Democrats in the Senate don’t think the state should be deciding for them. Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden of Columbia says he wants more qualified boots on the ground no matter where they live.