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Operation Legend Funding Measure Moves On To Full Cleveland City Council

City officials have approval from the Cleveland City Council Safety Committee to apply for a U.S. Department of Justice grant that would provide funding for Operation Legend, formerly known as Operation Relentless Pursuit.

The nearly $8 million grant would reimburse the city for the salaries and benefits of 30 Cleveland police officers, to be hired as part of task forces meant to break up large-scale crime in the city. The first wave of officers have already been selected, said Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“We are working, basically, from the shooting incident up, into gang investigations and enterprise-level investigations,” Herdman said.

Operation Legend also includes permanent reassignment of more than 25 federal agents and deputy U.S. marshals to the city, he said.

“We actually have a long-term commitment that’s going to last several years at least, where we are supporting and supplementing our existing federal crime task forces with additional agents,” Herdman said.

No funds-matching program is required from the city, said Police Chief Calvin Williams. The officers’ salaries and benefits would be fully funded by the DOJ’s COPS Office, he said. The federal grant would last from Oct. 1 until Sept. 31, 2023.

“It’s going to be more than the typical 3 to 4 or 8 to 12 months, it’s going to be multiple years that we’re going to run this task force,” Williams said.

Councilman Michael Polensek questioned if the new officers would assist the Cleveland Division of Police as a whole. The department is in need of staff to meet the demands of the local community, Polensek said.

The ordinance permitting the grant application was passed unanimously, and now goes before the full council. A deployment plan for Operation Legend will be discussed next month.

“Cleveland can’t solve all the crime alone, and these partnerships are really important,” said Councilman Matt Zone.

The committee also unanimously passed an ordinance allowing the city to collaborate with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to collect and analyze crime gun data.

“The goal of this initiative is to produce timely, precise, objective intelligence data in order to focus the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement forensics across material resources on the most violent offenders in the City of Cleveland and surrounding areas,” said Director of Public Safety Karrie Howard.

The measure also would allow for forfeiture proceeds and other funds to go toward reimbursement of police officer salaries or overtime.

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