By LESLIE COLLINS
May 22, 2013
Kansas City youth won’t have to follow a year-round 9 p.m. curfew in the entertainment districts just yet.
After tabling the proposed curfew for three weeks, the city’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee voted May 15 to table the item again for another four weeks.
Public Safety Chair John Sharp said tabling the item would give the mayor’s stakeholder group, which includes youth, the Kansas City Police Department and representatives from the five entertainment districts (Country Club Plaza, Zona Rosa, Westport Shopping District, the Central Business District and the 18th and Vine District) more time to meet to discuss solutions.
During the April 24 Public Safety meeting, City Council member Jan Marcason defended the need for a 9 p.m. year-round curfew for youth under 18.
“Unfortunately, incidents continue on the Plaza involving unsupervised youth,” Marcason said, who sponsored the curfew ordinance. “If we ignore there is a problem on the Plaza, we are doing a disservice to the residents.”
Sharp pointed out that the city already has a year-round curfew and currently, there are four different curfews depending on the time of year and the age of the youth, he said.
“Several people indicated it would be easier for the public to understand and for the police department to understand as well if we had a more uniform hour,” Sharp said.
In addition, several youth mentioned how the 9 p.m. curfew makes it difficult to see a 7 p.m. movie on the Plaza without violating the curfew, Sharp said.
“Unfortunately, many constituents who have contacted my office or that I’ve been in contact with have referred to this as the ‘Save the Plaza Ordinance,’ but the reality is, we must save our kids in the entire city and be concerned about how this affects all of our young people in Kansas City, regardless of their race,” Public Safety Committee member Jermaine Reed said.
Reed told Northeast News he agreed with his constituents and that further discussion is needed. In reference to the city providing summer programming for youth, Reed said the city should be focused on providing safe places for youth year-round, not just during the summer months.
“Having safe places to go should be the No. 1 focus,” Reed told Northeast News.
Both Reed and Public Safety Committee member Scott Taylor said that parents need to step up and act responsibly.
“There should be no excuse for a child 9, 10, 11 to be dropped off and left alone anywhere in the city at 9 or 10 o’clock at night. I don’t get that,” Taylor said.
Beginning Memorial Day, the 9 p.m. summertime curfew in the five entertainment districts will begin and continue through the last Sunday of September. Those under 18 are subject to the curfew. For curfew violations, parents and guardians will be subject to a fine of up to $500. In addition, youth caught violating the curfew can be detained by police until a parent or legal guardian comes to pick them up or until 6 a.m. the following day, whichever occurs first.