US Attorney, Albuquerque mayor spar over Operation Legend concerns

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s top federal prosecutor is responding to the City of Albuquerque over the purpose and expectations behind the recently announced Operation Legend. U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson is rejecting the city’s calls to cancel the planned surge of federal agents and requests for the operation to follow specific rules outlined by the city.

The federal response comes after the Keller administration sent a formal letter to U.S. Attorney Anderson’s office last week following the White House’s announcement of Operation Legend’s expansion. In an eight-page letter sent to Mayor Keller, Anderson says the extra federal agents aren’t leaving and argues in part that the city isn’t taking care of its crime problem on its own.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr described Operation Legend as “classic crime-fighting,” during a news conference last week. Friday, Mayor Tim Keller told KRQE News 13 he still doesn’t quite believe that’s all federal agents will do.

“There’s just a real history of being misled by the White House,” Keller said. “I think it’s been abundantly clear, that if the president wants to do something different with any given operation, he will.”

Dated on July 28, Anderson’s letter describes Operation Legend as an effort that is not equal to the federal response to protesters in Portland, Oregon. In the letter, Anderson says in part, “our state and local law enforcement counterparts have been unable to turn the tidal wave of crime in Albuquerque on their own.”

Anderson’s letter describes how federal agents won’t commit to wearing clearly marked uniforms outside of marked raid vests. The letter also states that federal agents won’t work under the Albuquerque Police Department’s DOJ reform rules, saying that agreement is “predicated upon APD’s own alleged unconstitutional pattern and practices.”

KRQE News 13 asked Keller if he felt Operation Legend could be acceptable if it’s true effort to fight violent crime. The mayor said in part, the city always welcomes help.

“The challenge is there was just no dialogue in this situation,” Keller said. “We always welcome the help, and we know we do need help with violent crime, it’s been a problem for a long time, so for us too, we need to make sure we’re making long term changes to the causes and to the issue and this operation explicitly, they said it’s like a two-month operation, so I think also by that definition, two months of 35 people is not going to change violent crime over the course of two years, that’s why it just seems so duplicitous from the start.”

According to Anderson’s letter, the U.S. Attorney also claims the city hasn’t formally accepted more than $10 million in federal grants for over a month. That claim directly contradicts the city’s claim that the feds haven’t delivered on their promise of grant funding.

Read U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson’s letter to City of Albuquerque here:

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