U.S. Attorney Herdman announces Operation Legend in Cleveland

Cleveland - United States Attorney Justin Herdman announced Wednesday that Operation Legend, a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime, will be expanding into the city of Cleveland.

“Today we are announcing that Operation Legend has come to Cleveland,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Operation Legend is the best of what we do every day. It’s federal, state and local law enforcement partnerships – working side-by-side, on long-term investigative efforts to deliver safety and security for the residents of Cleveland. I want to thank Mayor Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams for their partnership as well as the various federal and state agencies that make this initiative possible.”

“The City of Cleveland will continue to partner with federal law enforcement agencies to combat violent crime in our neighborhoods within the realm of constitutional policing,” said Mayor Jackson. “Residents and their families have a right to feel safe and be safe in their own communities. Coordinated efforts between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will allow us to more effectively address and reduce violent crimes in Cleveland neighborhoods to build a safer Cleveland for all.”

Operation Legend is named in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early on the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. The operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Missouri, and expanded on July 22nd, 2020, to Chicago and Albuquerque. Wednesday, the expansion of Operation Legend was announced in Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee.

As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General Barr directed the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA, and ATF to significantly increase resources into Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee in the coming weeks to help state and local officials fight high levels of violent crime, particularly gun violence. Cleveland is currently experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with homicides up more than 13% and shootings up over 35% over 2019.

“We, the US Marshals, have a long-standing partnership with the Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriffs Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Adult Parole in apprehending violent fugitives,” said Assistant Chief of the U.S. Marshals, Assistant Chief Brian Fitzgibbon. “Operation Legend will build upon these strong relationships and strengthen our commitment to protect and serve the citizens of the City of Cleveland and surrounding areas.”

During a press conference to announce the expansion of Operation Legend, FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith announced that as part of the initiative, a reward of up to $25,000 would be made available for information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual responsible for the carjacking and homicide of Eric Hakizimana.

"Someone knows who shot and killed 17-year-old Eric Hakizimana,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith. “The community and law enforcement must continue to work together to hold murderers accountable for taking our loved ones away. Operation Legend allows the FBI to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the successful identification and prosecution of the shooter. The FBI will continue to work collaboratively with our partners on all violent crime matters to ensure a safer community."

In the city of Cleveland, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending more than 25 federal investigators from the FBI, DEA, and ATF to the city. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman, these investigators will complement the work already underway by existing joint federal, state and local task forces focused on combatting violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking organizations.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make available $1 million to support Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts in Cleveland, and the COPS Office has also made almost $8 million available to fund the hiring of 30 Cleveland Police officers, five Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, and four Adult Parole Authority officers.

The Department of Justice has also provided assistance through the Joint Law Enforcement Operations (JLEO) fund to assist reimbursement of local law enforcement serving as federal task force officers with FBI, ATF, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Each Operation Legend city will receive $100,000 from ATF to help local agencies defray costs associated with installing or maintaining shot detection technology.

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