Jeramey Jannene

Federal “Surge” Is At Least 25 Agents

But far smaller than other cities, will not target protesters, says agent in charge.

By - Jul 29th, 2020 10:45 am
Milwaukee Federal Courthouse. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva

Milwaukee Federal Courthouse. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva

The “surge” of federal agents announced by President Donald Trump for Milwaukee and other “Democrat-run cities” continues to evolve, and continues to get smaller.

While Chicago was reported to be receiving 150 agents and Kansas City received more than 200, Milwaukee’s total might be closer to 25.

That’s according to U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Krueger, who briefed the media on the plan on Wednesday morning. He said the deployment would include more than 25 agents, but was part of existing task force efforts to fight crime.

The agents will be focused on violent crime, illegal guns and the city’s homicide rate, which has nearly doubled year-over-year. Their effort is part of Operation Legend, a rebranded 2019 federal initiative, and would not shift to covering protests or engaging with the Democratic National Convention, said Krueger.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Marshals Service will support existing law enforcement efforts.

A total of 10 agents will be deployed to provide immediate assistance. Others will be added over the next year.

“Operation Legend should not be confused with protest activity. Our focus is going to be on addressing violent crime in the Milwaukee area,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hughes said.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Milwaukee Police Department chief of staff Nick DeSiato briefed the Common Council on the reported “surge” on Monday, both saying they were caught off guard by the announcement. Upon learning it was a rebranding of Operation Relentless Pursuit from the Department of Justice and not an initiative from the Department of Homeland Security focused on civil unrest, they said this provided clarity as to what was being announced.

“I think that they are totally distinct,” said Chisholm, while adding this: “We have to remain vigilant, we have to remain disciplined about who is coming and what they’re going to do.”

“We were blindsided by the reference to Milwaukee,” said DeSiato. “Why our name and our city got included in that conversation is simply beyond us.” Backing up a prior press release, DeSiato said the department welcomes help to address violent crime, but not to target protesters.

The new initiative’s name is a reference to LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old recently killed in Kansas City. The $71 million federal effort was expected to include 400 agents supplementing local police forces in seven cities.

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Categories: Public Safety

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