Kansas City Council members are putting the finishing touches on a new curfew law that could be voted on as soon as Thursday.
Targeting selected areas for the new curfew and boosting the fine for parents whose kids violate the new law are among the highlights. Possible jail time could be involved.
The new curfew would be targeted to entertainment and shopping districts where teens congregate such as the Country Club Plaza, Zona Rosa and Westport.
The current ordinance calls for an 11 p.m. citywide curfew on weeknights and midnight on weekend nights for those 17 years old and younger. A parent whose child violates the law only has to pay $1 now.
Council members have yet to agree to a time, but opposition is mounting to the Plaza and Mayor Sly James' request for a 9 p.m. citywide curfew. Council members are considering a 10 p.m. curfew for those 15 years old and younger.
The council is considering changing the city's curfew law in wake of violence Saturday night on the Plaza that grabbed national headlines. Three teens were shot just 50 yards from James who was at the Plaza along with other community leaders in hopes of quelling issues from large groups of teens roaming the shopping and entertainment district.
Councilmen John Sharp, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and Councilman Ed Ford, who is an attorney, are taking the lead on drafting the new ordinance. Ford said Tuesday evening that he and Sharp are working with the City Attorney's Office in drafting the proposal.
Ford said that the new curfew would affect teens 15 years old and younger. He said a municipal court judge would set the fine and any jail sentence.
He said the existing provisions affecting 16 and 17-year-olds would likely stay in place, but he said the fine and jail provisions would be changed to match the ordinance affecting younger teens.
"If we target where we do have a problem and we do target the younger kids, who have no business being out at night unsupervised, I think it's more enforceable," Sharp told KCTV5.
Council members say the current curfew has been seldom enforced.
Councilwoman Jan Marcason whose Fourth District includes the Plaza, said she supports a tougher curfew law, but said it needs to get results and must be enforced.
"We must do something quickly and something bold," Marcason said. "I think it needs to send a message that it's inappropriate for gangs of young people to be on the Plaza causing trouble."
The second Fourth District councilman, Jim Glover, did not return telephone calls Tuesday.
The curfew debate will begin during the council's legislative meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Ford said he expects a consensus can be built around a single curfew ordinance that it can garner the nine votes needed later that day for immediate adoption.
City leaders hope to have the new curfew in place as soon as this weekend.
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