Following recent violence in Westport, debate reignites over pri - KCTV5 News

Following recent violence in Westport, debate reignites over privatization

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The scene in the area of 40th and Pennsylvania. (Eric Smith/KCTV) The scene in the area of 40th and Pennsylvania. (Eric Smith/KCTV)

A man opened fire into a crowd in Westport shooting two people over the weekend. 

Police shot the gunman. That incident has reignited the debate over privatizing Westport streets. 

The Westport entertainment district is a popular hangout spot on nights and weekends.  Crowd control is a major issue for both businesses and people who live nearby. 

The Westport Regional Business League is working with the city to address safety concerns during nights where there is increased foot traffic. 

They are proposing a street vacation which blocks off certain streets and designates entrance check points. 

"The difference is when we close the streets which we do on Friday and Saturday nights between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Then we would have the legal ability to prohibit weapons and scan for guns,” said Kim Kimbrough, executive director for the Westport Regional Business League.

Westport Road between Broadway and Mill Street and Pennsylvania Avenue between 40th and Archibald streets have been selected as the areas with the most crowds. 

Kimbrough says they are not trying to take away rights of the public to use the streets. 

But one neighborhood association doesn't approve for several reasons and says it causes a false sense of security. 

"They think they're going into a safe place they come in after 11 p.m. and there wanted for a gun they think that's happened to everybody before them but it only started at 11 p.m. so they could still get shot in there regardless,” said Patti Meier with the Valentine Neighborhood Association. 

Early Sunday morning, a man started shooting into a crowd near 40th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

An officer shot the suspect and two other men with gunshot wounds were pulled over trying to drive away.

Kimbrough says that would not have happened if the proposed ordinance were in place. 

"It occurred in the area that we are proposing for localization and if in fact that had happened those individuals would've still been in there but they would not have been armed,” Kimbrough said.

The proposal still needs to go in front of the planning committee. If approved the full council would have to vote on it.

"There have been lots of changes lots of additional clarification language added since it went in December. We're hopeful this process will be finished sometime early in the fall,” Kimbrough said.

There are a couple major events where the streets would be closed for safety.  

Westport Public Safety and off-duty Kansas City police officers will continue to work the area. 

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