Implementing a citywide 9 p.m. curfew for teens would be a Herculean task for police officers, council members learned Wednesday.
The Kansas City Council's Public Safety Committee discussed a new curfew law in the wake of the weekend violence on the Country Club Plaza.
A Kansas City Police Department representative said the city would not have enough officers or overtime money to enforce a citywide curfew at 9 p.m. for those 17 years old and younger.
One issue is high school football and basketball games often end after 9 p.m.
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.
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 Mayor Sly 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.
Even before Saturday night's violence, the owner of the Plaza had asked for a 9 p.m. curfew, citing problems with large groups of teens roaming the shopping and entertainment district well into the night.
The city's Police Department will abide by the council's wishes, but wanted to give council members a full briefing.
"We will do what the council and the mayor request, but I think it would be difficult to enforce a curfew citywide with the amount of manpower that we have," Deputy Police Chief Cy Ritter told the council committee.
Ritter detailed the issues that officers would have in picking up curfew violators. He said this would keep officers from handling more pertinent calls, creating response delays.
Fifth District Councilman Michael Brooks said this would be an issue.
"Certainly we want to have a police presence on the Plaza, but we want a police presence on 31st and Prospect too. We don't respond to just the Plaza," he said.
The department typically holds an offender until a parent picks them up, but that doesn't always happen.
"We have after waiting a reasonable amount of time, even after going to their homes, we get there and nobody's there," Ritter said. "That takes an officer completely out of service for a while."
Ritter said targeting areas, such as entertainment districts, would be easier for the department to handle. Also, the police department proposed using community centers as holding areas.
Ritter said separate community centers would be needed for male and female offenders.
"Not only would we need to separate the boys from the girls but it would be difficult to put 9-, 10-, 11-year-olds with 15-, 16-year-olds," Ritter said.
The Kansas City Council will discuss changes to the curfew law on Thursday afternoon and could vote tomorrow on an emergency measure.
Whatever the council decides, Ritter said, the department will bring additional officers to the Plaza this weekend. At least 60 more officers will be on hand than normal and a bus will be ready to haul off those who violate the current curfew or other laws.
"As many of you witnessed last Saturday, there were 9, 10, 11, 12-year-old children again on the Plaza," Ritter said. "That's a big problem and it's a community problem as well.When the community doesn't handle it, it falls on us."
Thursday, August 28 2014 9:44 PM EDT2014-08-29 01:44:10 GMT
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