Washington, D.C.
FBI National Press Office
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September 9, 2020

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich’s Remarks at Press Conference on Operation Legend

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich delivered the following remarks during a press conference in Chicago with Attorney General William P. Barr and other officials regarding Operation Legend. (Remarks as delivered)

Good morning. As Attorney General Barr noted, our nation has made great progress against violent crime, but it still plagues way too many of our communities. And those of us in law enforcement cannot rest while any American lives in fear in their own home, or certainly, their own neighborhood. The violent crime threat we face today is very diverse, very dangerous, and it’s much too all encompassing for any one agency—be it state, local, or federal—to tackle alone. That’s why the attorney general has launched Operation Legend. While every agency here today that’s represented has a different role and responsibility, fighting violent crime is a responsibility and a duty that we all share. It’s one team and one fight.

That is why Operation Legend was established: to marry the resources of the federal government to assist in tackling the rise in violent crime in many cities throughout the U.S. By combining the resources of all these players, we believe we can have a lasting impact and make our communities safer. Operation Legend reflects that team approach—and the men and women of the FBI are committed, just as our partners are committed, to meeting this challenge.

Through our Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Forces and our Violent Crimes Task Forces, the FBI and our partners bring to the table what we do best. Prior to, and even more so throughout, this operation, we continue working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to combine our expertise, our knowledge, and our resources to identify, investigate, and prosecute those responsible for the violent crimes occurring in our cities. The FBI’s focus is on targeting the overall leadership structure of our gangs and our criminal enterprises that drive the scourge of violent crimes in many of our communities.

What we bring to the table is the ability to target some of the most violent offenders in the short term, while pursuing a long-term strategy to dismantle criminal enterprises and gangs. The Bureau has already dedicated significant resources and leveraged our partnerships in cities chosen for Operation Legend.

We have surged additional resources to help further reduce violent crime in Operation Legend. For example, right here in Chicago, we brought in 60 FBI special agents, in addition to what was already assigned here. We also surged analytical resources and data exploitation personnel to help in those investigations. Many of these folks have left their own communities to come and work side by side with the FBI agents, the ATF agents, the Chicago Police Department, and other agencies that are here. They left their own families and their own homes because they want to help, and they want to be here to help Chicago in any way. We have done this to help investigate and take the worst offenders off the streets and with the hope that we can cripple some of these organizations out there. This effort includes agents, intelligence analysts, digital evidence experts, and personnel from field offices across the country, all working together to reduce violent crime, to keep people safe, and to find and stop dangerous criminals through law enforcement actions, digital forensics, mapping trends, tips, hotlines, digital billboards, social media, press releases, and the like. 

It’s a true team effort, which cannot be accomplished through law enforcement partnerships alone. It also needs the hard work of the community, but I will tell you this: there are a lot of hard working assistant United States attorneys throughout this country that are side by side with these investigators, trying to help curtail the violence in many of these communities. And we’re already seeing real results. Many of those have been discussed already, so I won’t go through those. But we have had hundreds of cases, arrests, and seizures, which have been made across the country in Op Legend already. Last week alone, between August 31 and September 7, the FBI alone opened 50 cases. We made 18 arrests, and recovered 46 weapons. That’s in one week.

Investigating violent crime is a 24/7, 365 day a year job that the we do not take lightly. I am confident that with our partners working close together, we will continue to make progress against violent crime—and progress that the American people both expect, but more importantly, that progress that they deserve.

So I want to talk now to those who are responsible for the violence. If you are responsible for the violence, and you hear nothing else that’s said, hear this: We will bring down the full weight of the federal government, in our case, the FBI, to address your violent acts. If you are convicted in federal court, it’s very unlikely you’re going to walk in the front door and out the back. If you are convicted, federal time in court is 85% minimum time served.

To the citizens of Chicago, the attorney general has used the word “will.” If we accept this as status quo, that is not going to make any progress. If we have the will to pursue and endeavor throughout these challenges, I believe we can accomplish a lot. That will is being led by the attorney g and all the agencies here, but it also needs the will of the community. We’re asking the citizens of Chicago to trust us. Pick up the phone and provide the information we need to help solve crimes of violence, which are plaguing your communities and our communities. 

In short, we are trying to instill confidence in the system, and I am asking you to trust us. With that, I talked to you about tips, I’m going to leave you with the tip line. If you have information about significant violent crime, I would ask you to please call 1-800-CALL-FBI or send us an e-tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Thank you.