SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The top law enforcement officer in northern Louisiana says they are bringing more federal resources to bear in the fight against violent crime in Shreveport.
“How does federal law enforcement help this initiative? First, it frees Judge Stewart’s office up to prosecute and work on other things, rapes, murder, aggravated assaults. If we can bring more federal gun cases here, narcotics cases here, that allows him to deploy his limited resources to do other things,” acting U.S. Attorney Alex Van Hook said in a news conference Tuesday morning, flanked by Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart, Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond, and Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.
“Secondly, and equally important, is when someone is arrested for federal charges, they are detained. They sit in jail until their time comes. And once they’re convicted, they go to jail for a substantial period of time. Taking a violent offender off the street, letting them sit in jail to await their trial, removes the threat they provide to the citizens of this city.”
The effort is based on two federal initiatives Van Hook said are being expanded to Shreveport, encouraging joint efforts between federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Project Guardian, launched in 2019, aims to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country that “emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.”
Operation Legend is named in memory of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while asleep in bed early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. It was launched in larger cities that have seen spikes in violent crime, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.
“These gun crimes are not just a problem in our larger cities, but also here in the Western District of Louisiana,” said Van Hook.
“The United State’s Attorney’s Office, ATF, DEA, and FBI are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring additional federal prosecutions and investigations and for us to work hand-in-hand to rid our streets of violent gun-toters and drug traffickers.”
Eight months into the year, Shreveport has already surpassed the 42 homicides logged in 2019, with at least 45 as of Tuesday. That does not count the shootings that have not been fatal, including the shootout Friday night at a Mooretown apartment complex that wounded a toddler caught in the crossfire.
“Since May 2020, there have been shootings in Shreveport where at least ten innocent children have
been shot and some killed. Our organized efforts are in honor of these and the many other victims who suffered at the hands of these dangerous criminals. Many Shreveport neighborhoods are filled with gunshots being fired randomly,” said Van Hook.
“I’ve said that the most basic responsibility of our government is to ensure the safety of our people, and for far too much of 2020, the people of Shreveport have had to endure rising violent crime and homicide rates, and all of this violent crime is primarily driven by illegal possession of guns and illegal trafficking of narcotics.”
According to information released Tuesday by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, 386 federal firearms cases have been prosecuted in the Western District of Louisiana since 2017 “and our efforts are increasing.”