Starting tonight on August 31, enhanced security will be implemented and crowds at Westport will be screened prior to entering the pedestrian zone from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m.
The security has been talked about for months.
“Increasingly it is necessary to screen for weapons like airports, stadiums, arenas, and some public buildings,” the release said. “In order to do this in this unique, historic area, Westport is implementing a few changes so visitors can focus on fun.”
From now on, every Friday and Saturday night, there will be:
- Pedestrian boundary markers circling the portion of Westport’s entertainment district that is the pedestrian zone.
- Anyone entering the pedestrian zone must pass through one of four check points. Entrance gates will be at:
- Westport & Mill
- Westport & Broadway
- Pennsylvania & Archibald
- Pennsylvania & the entrance to the parking garage
- Enhanced security screening will be used, similar to that at professional sporting venues. As such, weapons and large metal objects are prohibited. Bags and purses must not exceed 8.5 x 11 x 6 inches.
- Police, security, and civil rights monitors will have a presence within the district, the release said.
“For over a decade, Westport has prohibited entry by minors on Friday and Saturday nights,” the release said. “Now, anyone 21 and over who wishes to enter Westport must pass through the screening as well as present a valid ID.”
People will have to wait to get inside and will not be able to take shortcuts because the alleys will be blocked off. Crews have been putting up the new metal gates around the bar district all week.
Vehicles are not allowed to enter or leave the pedestrian zone between 10:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends, which started in April.
“Visitors are encouraged to use alternative transportation on late night visits or park in spaces outside of the pedestrian zone,” the release said. “The ParkMobile app can help visitors identify available, close-in spaces.”
More information is available here.
To view the complete list of prohibited items, click here.
For some, the change in security took them by surprise since they were just in Westport last month.
"I mean, we all went down to the Karaoke bar, had fun, and I mean we never felt unsafe at all," said Tyler Haug. "It feels kind of weird, like I’m going through airport security and like I’m going to be checked like someone who is bringing in a gun, but I’m not."
Opponents of the new security have made their concerns clear. They want to make sure there is not racial profiling during the security checks.
There will be people present to watch the screenings and make sure profiling does not happen.
A PR representative with the entertainment district said the extensive list comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which explains the odd items included in list
“The list of banned items in a secure area is the same list at other screened areas as it comes from the Dept. of Homeland Security,” said Stacey McBride with O'Neill Events & Marketing.
KCTV5 News searched for such a list.
The Federal Protective Service list of Recommended Prohibited Items includes many of the same items, separated into categories such as explosives and club-like items. However, some items on Westport's list are not included in that document.
The TSA prohibited items list is closer to including all of same items. However, which of them are prohibited does not match those prohibited in Westport during the late night, weekend hours.