The Trump administration on Wednesday announced plans to deploy federal law enforcement officers to three more cities — Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee.
The Justice Department said the expansion of the so-called Operation Legend is meant to “fight violent crime.” Last week, the federal government sent officers to Albuquerque and Chicago.
“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” Attorney General William Barr said. “Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee, three cities that have seen disturbing increases in violent crime, particularly homicides.
“For decades, the Department of Justice has achieved significant success when utilizing our anti-violent crime task forces and federal law enforcement agents to enforce federal law and assist American cities that are experiencing upticks in violent crime.”
Barr said federal officers from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will support local law enforcement.
Last week’s deployment to Albuquerque and Chicago was met with pushback from local leaders, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who promised not to let federal officers “terrorize our residents.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., compared the decision to sending federal forces to Seattle and Portland, Ore., in response to protests that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Given the mess it created in Portland, I let him know in no uncertain terms that this isn’t the kind of ‘help’ that Albuquerque needs,” he tweeted.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan appeared more accepting of the federal help Wednesday, but said the officers should focus their efforts on violent crime, not protests.
“So long as they are used in the continuing effort to enforce federal laws on illegal gun trafficking and gang violence, [the Detroit Police Department] will continue its strong partnership with those agencies,” he tweeted.
“We believe there is no lawful bases for Homeland Security intervention in the Detroit protests today, or for any increased presence of Homeland Security agents in our community. Today’s announcement appears to respect that position.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced this week the withdrawal of federal officers from their respective states.
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