‘Operation Legend’ takes aim at gun violence homicides in Indianapolis with federal help

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INDIANAPOLIS – A new federal effort to reduce gun violence in Indianapolis was unveiled Friday by federal and local leaders.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor and others announced “Operation Legend.”

Operation Legend includes a 45-day commitment involving 57 federal agents who will support local authorities. According to the Department of Justice, Indianapolis is experiencing a “significant increase in violent crime.” Homicides are up more than 51% and non-fatal shootings are up more than 34%.

A deadly shooting on the northwest side Friday afternoon marked the 145th homicide in the city this year which is a drastic increase compared to recent years.

“That number is unacceptable,” said Hogsett. “No matter the cause the effect is tragedy. The truth is in Indianapolis we have seen an alarming rise in homicide rates.”

Hogsett says many factors may be contributing the spike in homicides in 2020 including a drastic increase in gun purchases, an economy impacted by layoffs, decrease outreach for neighborhoods in need of help and in some cases simple boredom during the ongoing lockdown.

Operation Legend is not designed as a response to recent civil unrest, but simply a response to the spike in gun violence.

“The persistent public safety challenge in this city is gun violence. While overall crime has decreased, gun violence has been persistent,” said United States attorney Josh Minkler.

Minkler promised harsh punishments from cases prosecuted by Operation Legend, with no plea bargaining and no pretrial release.

“This is not catch and release,” said Minkler. “The average sentence in federal court is ten years. Ten years in prison is the average sentence.”

Still, the police chief acknowledged that more work needs to be done to address the root causes of violence, beyond simply making arrests.

“We know that enforcement alone will not prevent violence, but those who rob our citizens of their futures must be held accountable,” said IMPD chief Randal Taylor.

“Ultimately our job is to prevent the violence is the first place, but it will take massive effort, both preventative and punitive, to get through this unprecedented time,” said Hogsett.

As part of the program, the FBI is also offering a $25,000 reward for anyone with information into the unsolved murder of Deshaun Swanson.

The 10-year-old boy was killed during a drive-by shooting in Butler-Tarkington in September 2015 as he stood innocently at the front door.

“We have to lost too many young people and too many children to violence,” said Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett.

Operation Legend launched in Kansas City. It has since expanded to Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and St. Louis. It’s named in honor of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who died in an early morning shooting on June 29 in Kansas City.

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