Breaking News
More () »

Homicides down 22% in Indianapolis with help from Feds, says US Attorney's Office

"Operation Legend" has been underway in Indianapolis for nearly two months, but officials say it can't go on forever.

INDIANAPOLIS — With 153 homicides since the start of the year, Indianapolis is just five homicides away from breaking the city’s murder record for an entire year.  

“We don’t want to be the next Baltimore or Detroit and we’re heading in that direction,” said Rev. Charles Harrison of the Indy Ten Point Coalition. 

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Josh Minkler said he asked for federal help because “we want the bleeding to stop.” 

Operation Legend is what the Department of Justice describes as a “systemic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crimes.” The DOJ said Operation Legend was named “in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City.” It was first launched in July in Kansas City, Missouri and has been deployed in Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and, as of mid-August, Indianapolis.  

It’s supposed to be a 45-day operation. But Minkler said that after the 45-day mark, “we were encouraged by the results so we want to keep it going as long as we can.”  

On October 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana announced that Operation Legend had been extended in Indianapolis. At the time, it said “the office cannot advise on an end date.” 

Friday marks the 54th day of Operation Legend.

“In the 54 days prior to Operation Legend, there were 44 homicides. That’s a lot. That’s a lot in 54 days,” said Minkler. “In the 54 days since Operation Legend began, we’ve had 34 (homicides). So that’s a 22 percent reduction.

“The decrease in homicides since Operation Legend is encouraging,” he added. 

Harrison said it’s hard to measure that reduction on the ground. He said the operation is going to have to remain active a lot longer for the impact to trickle down and that it’s going to also take more coordination from the city.  

“This is six consecutive years that Indianapolis has seen record-breaking violence,” said Harrison. “I’m hoping that the mayor and the City-County Council will begin to listen more to neighborhoods, anti-violence groups, and community stakeholders in coming up with a better strategy that is more bottom up than top down.

“We gotta get the neighborhoods more involved in the strategies to help bring down the violence with resources if we’re going to have success at bringing violence down,” said Harrison.  

Two weeks into Operation Legend, both the U.S. Attorney's Office of Southern Indiana and FBI Indianapolis sat down with 13News, and both acknowledged the economic climate and high unemployment have impacted crime levels, but say attacking gun violence in Indianapolis needs to come from two directions.

"Obviously, there are good, well-meaning people that are trying to address the root causes completely,” Minkler told 13News in August. “This is the enforcement side."

Now, 54 days into Operation Legend, Minkler said 201 guns had been seized off Indianapolis streets and “97 fugitives (have been) apprehended, arrested, and (taken) off the streets...including 13 for homicides, five for sexual assault, nine for aggravated assault and 15 for robbery."

“Federal agents have prosecuted 63 crimes in the last 54 days,” said Minkler.  

When it comes to drugs, federal agents have helped Indianapolis seize nearly $1.5 million in drug money and Operation Legend has taken more than 26,000 grams of illicit drugs off the streets, said Minkler.  

“1,721 grams of heroin, 23,500 grams of methamphetamine, (and) 1,211 grams of fentanyl,” said Minkler. “When three grams of fentanyl is fatal, 1,211 grams is a lot to take off the streets."

Community leaders say Minkler reached out to them prior to launching Operation Legend and that they have not seen anything that would lead them to be concerned about civil rights violations. 

“I haven’t seen anything like that,” said Harrison. “Our concern is who’s selling the guns, and whatever color, we need to get them off the street, because it’s creating too much havoc, you know, in our neighborhoods. But we haven’t seen anything or heard anything yet that would concern us."

Operation Legend in Indianapolis does not currently have an end date, but having federal and local resources poured into one county can’t be indefinite. 

Marion County “is just one of the counties that the Southern District of Indiana has to cover, one of 60. So putting all our resources in one county can’t go on forever,” said Minkler.  

Rev. Harrison hopes it will at least continue through the beginning of 2021.  

“The City of Peace Coalition, which I’m part of, when we met with US Attorney Josh Minkler and the ATF agent, you know, we really would like to see six months to a year (of Operation Legend),” he said.

Minkler said he hopes to run the program as long as possible.  

With Indianapolis on the brink of breaking its homicide record with still more than two months left in the year, community leaders and officials are hoping the feds will allow enough time and support to stop the bleeding in Indianapolis, and not just dress the wound.  

Before You Leave, Check This Out