New Plaza safety regulations address disturbances downtown

Rachel Lock, Web Editor

Recent disturbances at the Country Club Plaza have raised concerns with authority about the safety of customers. With the majority of these citations involving teenagers, this violence is a major problem for anyone on the Plaza. This major problem has been met with new regulations regarding Plaza safety.
Police Chief Darryl Forte’s new plan includes an increase in undercover police officers, portable cameras, citations issued and a “no more warnings” policy. Other precautions include a curfew for unaccompanied youths, positive nighttime activities provided, as well as encouragement of parents to watch their children while on the Plaza.
Mayor Sly James has also been concerned about the safety of Plaza customers and has worked closely with the police chief to resolve the issue. This issue is not only in the Plaza, but widespread across the Kansas City, Mo., area.
In 2013, teens between 16 and 18 were cited for 63 curfew violations in the entertainment districts. Of these, 21 teens were found guilty and their parent or guardian fined. In the entertainment districts, there is a special curfew from Memorial Day weekend to Sept. that requires all unaccompanied minors to leave by 9 p.m.
The Feb. 15 incident on the Plaza resulted in the arrest of three teens who refused to get on the sidewalk after being asked to by police officers. The police force claims they were disrupting traffic flow by jumping in front of cars, causing major problems.
More severe problems include shootings and fights, one of which occurred on a Saturday night last August right next to James when surveying the area for possible dangers. Three teens were shot when hundreds of other youths were passing through the district, making it unclear who the shooter or shooters were. This happened 50 yards away from the mayor, who was pushed into a bed of flowers by police officers to avoid the gunfire. The mayor was unharmed, and none of the three teens’ wounds were fatal.
With police cracking down on the issue, it is expected that the amount of violence and disruptions on the Plaza will decrease significantly.