Tampa, Florida – U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez today announced $356,196 in Department of Justice funding to hire a special prosecutor to try federal firearms cases originating in the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida. The award supports violence reduction efforts as part of Operation Legend and other Department-led initiatives in cities across the country.
“Keeping its citizens safe is the primary responsibility of government,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Cities plagued by violent crime need the resources to tackle it, and these grant awards will help do that. On the enforcement side, Real Time Crime Centers will make policing more efficient and targeted; and on the prosecution side, Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys will help bring more federal firearms cases to justice.”
“We are proud to work alongside our federal, state, and local partners in combating violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “This funding will allow us to strengthen our partnerships and leverage our resources to focus on firearms-related violence in our communities.”
Attorney General Barr announced that the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs is making up to $5.3 million available in grants to support Operation Legend sites nationwide. More than $1.3 million will fund special prosecutors who have been cross-designated to try federal firearms cases originating in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Kansas City, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and St. Louis, Missouri. In addition, these and other Legend cities will be eligible for grant funding to support Real Time Crime Centers. These centers are a considerable financial investment for any law enforcement agency. The funding being made available to each Legend city can assist police departments in purchasing critical equipment and paying for the overtime to keep these centers staffed around the clock.
“We are pleased to support the outstanding work being undertaken through Operation Legend to reduce violent crime by focusing on cases involving illegal firearms,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “The Office of Justice Programs is pleased to make these resources available to support the brave crime-fighters who work so hard to deter violence and keep our communities safe.”
“We remain committed to addressing the violent gun crime plaguing our community and are grateful for this opportunity to expand our partnership in this public safety effort,” said State Attorney Melissa Nelson.
A grant to the State Attorney’s Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit will support the hiring of a full-time local prosecutor who will be empowered to try firearms cases in federal court. Prosecuting gun crimes is central to the Justice Department’s strategy under Operation Legend and other violence reduction initiatives led by the Department. These efforts follow a sustained, systematic and coordinated approach to gun violence in which federal law enforcement agencies work closely with state and local officials to fight violent crime. Funding comes from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs.
The Department of Justice launched Operation Legend in July, following the murder of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept in his Kansas City home. The initiative was subsequently expanded from Kansas City to Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Since the summer launch, officials in Operation Legend sites have made more than 5,500 arrests, including approximately 276 for homicide, and seized more than 2,000 firearms. Of the more than 5,500 individuals arrested, approximately 1,124 have been charged with federal offenses. More than 600 of those defendants have been charged with firearms offenses.
More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.