PORTSMOUTH, Va. — UPDATE: Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council members Thursday, further explaining his references to Operation Legend and federal programs during this week's special called meeting to address violent crime.
Moore said he "did not bring up the names of these operations specifically for Portsmouth...it was my intention to convey the concept of these programs, not the names or the operational functions of these programs during this time period."
He added that he reached out to congressional representatives and senators to request national support from the Department of Justice, to hopefully create a new mission for Portsmouth that includes a new mission name.
Moore's full comments can be explained here:
PREVIOUS STORY: Portsmouth law enforcement leaders said they need to get creative to stop a surge in violent crime within the city, including asking federal agencies for help.
However, there are some questions about what that help looks like.
At Tuesday's special meeting to discuss violent crime, Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore suggested using a federal program -- Operation Legend -- to help deploy federal agents to the city and assist local law enforcement.
Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince supported Moore's call for federal assistance.
“What the sheriff is proposing is a good idea, and it will help us and it should help us reduce crime," Prince said.
But the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed Wednesday that Operation Legend, a program initiated by the Trump administration to help address violent crime, is no longer active. It was shut down in early 2021.
Chief Prince and Sheriff Moore did say extending other federal partnerships -- including work with the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service -- would be important as he searches for new ways to curb the spike in shootings.
“I took the playbook out and I ripped the pages out," Prince said. "I’m retyping it and coming up with different things. Will it work? Yeah, it will."
About a third of all shootings in Hampton Roads so far this year have occurred in Portsmouth.
In the first two months of this year, 30 people were shot in Portsmouth. Nine of them died.
On Wednesday, some Portsmouth residents said they'd welcome more federal agents to stop the "senseless violence."
"It’s out of hand, people just come by and shoot and they don’t care if they hit kids or grandmothers, it’s out of hand, they need to do something about it," said Glenn Morgan, in Portsmouth. "If [federal agents] do the job, then yeah, that's what they need."
Chief Prince said more federal partners would "augment" the local police force, not replace it or work independently.
"You will not see them in a patrol car operating by themselves and you will not see them out contacting people without having a police officer attached to them," he said.
However, what kind of federal programs or task forces could be utilized is unclear, as the listed example from Tuesday's meeting is off the table.
Prince asked for community support to address increases in shootings and violent crime and praised the efforts of Portsmouth police officers.
"With the people I know that are behind me right now in this community, the difference is going to happen, there will be change," he said.
After confirming Operation Legend is no longer active, an FBI spokesperson said more details in response to questions from 13News Now will be shared soon.