Milwaukeeans got more answers Wednesday about a push to add federal investigators to anti-violence efforts in the city. U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger announced the U.S. Department of Justice will provide 25 to 30 federal investigators in Milwaukee as part of Operation Legend — an initiative to curb violent crime in cities.
Krueger highlighted that homicides in Milwaukee are up.
"As of [Tuesday], there were already 97 homicides in Milwaukee compared to 52 at the same time last year. That's an 85% increase. That's over 45 additional lives lost, 45 additional sons and daughters," says Krueger.
So, the Justice Department is providing trained federal investigators — from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and United States Marshals Service — to assist with work already underway by joint federal, state and local task forces.
"Ten of those federal investigators are already assigned to Milwaukee temporarily to provide immediate assistance. The other investigators will be assigned permanently over the coming year to provide long-term assistance," says Krueger.
Krueger confirmed the agents aren’t part of the Department of Homeland Security or tasked to protect federal property, like controversial tactical teams in Portland, Ore. It was reported Wednesday those tactical teams are withdrawing from Portland.
Krueger also stressed the program is not connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, and that investigators will not be targeting or patrolling protests or neighborhoods.
"Operation Legend is not aimed at local protest activity or civil disturbances," says Krueger. "Let me say it again, Operation Legend is not focused on protest activity or civil disturbances."
Krueger also elaborated that state and local partners have been working with the secret service on law enforcement for the DNC.
Operation Legend comes with $12 million in funding for state and local law enforcement, with $10.2 million earmarked to pay for hiring 29 new police officers in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and Cudahy so veteran officers can join the task forces.
The program continues a previous federal effort to reduce violent crime called Operation Relentless Pursuit that began in Milwaukee in late 2019. The initial phase of Relentless Pursuit, which went from January to April of this year, resulted in the arrest of 96 people in Milwaukee. They were wanted for crimes like homicide, robbery and sexual assault.