Detroit will get $1.1 million and dozens of temporary and permanent federal agents from ATF and the FBI to fight violent crime as part of a presidential program dubbed Operation Legend.
Some of the money will create an ATF unit to battle gun violence.
"Operation Legend continues and expands what we have been doing for decades, which is sending federal agents and money to Detroit to fight gun and gang violence," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement Wednesday. "Our children are being caught in the crossfire and murdered in senseless acts of gun violence, and I am very thankful that our community supports federal help to fight the current crime wave in Detroit.”
The operation was launched July 8 in Kansas City, Mo. It has expanded to Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and now Detroit.
Mayor Mike Duggan welcomes the armed assistance as "an important step."
In recent weeks, President Trump has sent mixed messages about the benefits of deploying additional federal agents to cities. He set the tone initially by sending federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security in unmarked uniforms to Portland to deal with Black Lives Matter protests.
That move provded controversial and created a pushback around the country when Trump said he planned to send federal agents to other cities. Critics assumed it was to battle BLM protesters.
Now Trump says Justice Department agents will target urban street violence. At the White House last Wednesday, he said:
In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes. To look at it from any standpoint, the effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.
Today, I’m announcing a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime. We’ll work every single day to restore public safety, protect our nation’s children, and bring violent perpetrators to justice. ... Frankly, we have no choice but to get involved.
The presence of federal agents in Detroit isn't new. The FBI, ATF, DEA, Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies have permanent offices for many decades. The FBI has the most agents, with about 200 spread throughout the state, with the biggest concentration in Detroit.
Detroit's mayor, who has seen an uptick in violent crime, tweets support.
We have to address the unacceptable level of gun violence in Detroit through greater efforts by federal, state, county, DPD, and community partners all working together. We hope today’s announcement will prove to be an important step in that direction.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) July 29, 2020
We believe there is no lawful basis 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.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) July 29, 2020
Today’s announcement of additional federal agency staff was not initiated by the City of Detroit. So long as they are used in the continuing effort to enforce federal laws on illegal gun trafficking and gang violence, DPD will continue its strong partnership with those agencies.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) July 29, 2020
Hours before the announcement in Detroit, the group Detroit Will Breathe posted on Facebook:
"We vehemently oppose the expansion of federal policing in Detroit. The historical precedent of 1967 shows us that when federal law enforcement comes to Detroit, they sow more violence and Black people die. Detroit communities need federal dollars for housing and education, not federal troops."
The move comes little more than three months before the Nov. 3 election.
Under the new plan in Detroit, the feds will add:
● Approximately $1 million for local law enforcement to assist in gun and gang violence prevention
● Approximately $100,000 for acoustic gunshot detection technology and equipment
● 10 new/permanent ATF Special Agents
● 1 new/permanent ATF Supervisory Special Agent
● 4 new/permanent ATF Intelligence Specialists
● 4 new/permanent ATF Industry Operations Investigators
● 15 ATF Special Agents begin temporary detail assignments
● 10 ATF Special Agents reassigned internally to this initiative
● ATF creates additional unit to focus on gun violence
● 5 FBI special agents realigned from other programs
● 3 FBI analysts from other programs
● 3 FBI special agents begin temporary assignments
● 1 FBI Intelligence Analyst begins temporary detail assignment
● $25,000 rewards for information leading to gun violence arrests