New Kansas City curfew law in effect - KCTV5 News

New Kansas City curfew law in effect

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Mayor Sly James signed a new curfew law Friday requiring most teens to leave the Country Club Plaza and four other entertainment districts earlier starting tonight.

The 9 p.m. curfew is in effect in the five entertainment districts for teens 17 years old and younger, not accompanied by a parent or guardian. Besides the Plaza, the other entertainment districts are downtown, Westport, the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District and Zona Rosa.

Previously, the city had an 11 p.m. curfew on weeknights and midnight curfew on weekends.

Police did not report any problems once the curfew went into effect Friday night but officers were out in force on the Plaza. Teens told KCTV5 that the new curfew is good for both teens and the city.

The Kansas City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a new curfew ordinance in the wake of three teens getting shot within 50 yards of James last weekend on the Plaza.

The 9 p.m. curfew will be in effect from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Sunday in September.

Those areas will have the same curfew as the rest of the city during the remainder of the year.

The curfew for the rest of the city will be 10 p.m. during the summer months for those 15 years old and younger. Those 16 and 17 years old will have an 11 p.m. curfew.

The curfew from the end of September through the end of May will be 11 p.m.

Violators will be taken to Brush Creek Community Center or the Kansas City Police Department's North Patrol headquarters. The Brush Creek Community Center will open at 8:30 p.m. nightly and remain open until 6 a.m.

The police department will provide transportation to the Brush Creek Center while the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Parks staff will operate the center.

James announced Friday that the city is going to beef up its activities for youth. The city is opening its Hillcrest, Gregg-Klice, Aguirre and Kansas City North community centers until 11 p.m. on Fridays and  midnight on Saturdays.

These times are past the new citywide curfew but the ordinance adopted Thursday includes an exception for when those under 18 years old attend an event "for which the city has specifically approved the presence of unaccompanied persons under 18 years of age upon city property."

The Kansas City Star, KCTV5's reporting partner, reported that keeping the community centers open will cost the city $115,000.

In a statement, James said the city has a responsibility to provide more options for teens.

"Kids are kids. They should be able to gather with their friends, hang out and play ball over the weekend," James said. "We just want each and every one of our young people to be safe."

A conviction for violating the new ordinance will bring a fine of up to $500 and court costs for the offender's parent or guardian. In place of a fine, the parent and child could go to counseling sessions and the parent would receive probation.

Councilwoman Jan Marcason, whose district represents the Plaza, said she thinks last weekend's violence represented a wakeup call for the Kansas City area. She said parents cannot expect to drop off 10, 11, 12-year-old kids in the entertainment district and leave them unattended for hours.

"We had to send a strong message," she said.

Plaza patron Scott Davis said he understands the council wanting to protect Plaza businesses, but he said $500 is too much of a fine.

Several Plaza patrons told KCTV5 that they think a fine of up to $500 will keep unruly teens away. But some wondered if the city took the right approach.

"I think they are going to need more people out here patrolling rather than a curfew," Kevin Wichman said.

John McClure, owner and head chef at Starker's Reserve on the Plaza, said he believes last week's incident was isolated.

"I don't think it's going to happen again," he said. "I think we had one incident and it's not going to deter people from the Plaza."

Carmelite Jackson applauded the decision. She said her daughter didn't take a job on the Plaza because of the large groups of teens that congregate there.

"I think it will help the youth and our community to be in house where they need to be," Jackson said. "I believe kids need rules, otherwise they get out of control."

The Kansas City Police Department plans to have an additional 60 officers at the Plaza this weekend, but does not plan to bring in officers to handle curfew violators in other parts of the city.

"The police department will enforce the curfew where we see appropriate if situations seem appropriate at the time, steps will be taken to address anyone under a certain age in any entertainment district where they shouldn't be," police spokeswoman Sgt. Stacey Graves said.

Graves added that the department hopes the curfew will deter parents from dropping off their children unattended on the Plaza.

"We don't anticipate any problems, but we are ready for them should they occur," Graves said.

Click here to read about Thursday's vote by the Kansas City Council.

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