Plaza politics expected to take center stage this week at City Hall
Chris Hernandez , Sloane Heller
7:38 AM, Aug 15, 2011
3:43 PM, Aug 15, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Mayor Sly James met with police at 7 a.m. Monday morning, and is spending his lunch hour with the City Attorney to talk over options for getting a tougher curfew in place by the coming weekend.
James is also talking with city council members, school district leaders, and the owners of the Country Club Plaza this week to discuss changing the curfew for teens in the popular shopping district.
City leaders plan to ask school districts to help spread the word to students and families.
Right now, the weekend curfew on the Plaza is midnight but there is talk about moving it to 9 p.m. Philadelphia has already changed its curfew to deal with a similar problem: teen flash mobs.
Saturday night, police say hundreds of teens gathered throughout the Plaza. Around 11 p.m. three of them were shot. James was about 50 yards away from the shooting and his body guards pushed him to the ground when they heard the gun shots. The three teens are expected to be okay. Police haven't arrested anyone in the case.
The mayor has the power to declare an emergency curfew but he's not convinced it's the right decision.
On Monday morning, a spokesman in the mayor's office said one option is having the City Council pass a new curfew during its Thursday meeting, but then having the mayor declare an emergency for this weekend so that it could be in effect right away, rather than waiting the usual 10 days for a new ordinance to become law.
"We can't expect that imposing a curfew will stop a 15, 16 or 17-year-old from bringing a gun to anywhere," said James.
The mayor also said he will talk to the Municipal and Juvenile courts about the curfew change.
The following is the exact text from a letter James sent Monday to community leaders:
"As many of you are aware, Kansas City has joined an unfortunate, but growing, list of cities throughout the world that are forced to deal with large congregations of young people and violence associated with those gatherings. This past weekend, three young people, ages 13, 15, and 16, were shot on the Plaza inside a mob of hundreds.
I would like to pass along an update on the three injured young people. All three are stable, which is very good news.
While we may not be able to stop shootings like the one last weekend, understand that this situation cannot stand. We were looking for a reasonable solution to this issue prior to Saturday's events and will continue to work this week ahead of City Council session on Thursday with the police, the council, the courts and the 14 school districts in Kansas City to determine a path forward that helps keeps kids safe not only on the Plaza but throughout our city.
The purpose of this letter is to ask for your advice and input as we seek to keep our young people safe and reduce crime in our city. It is also to advise you that it is a distinct possibility, after extensive discussions, the City of Kansas City will implement a 9 p.m. city-wide curfew beginning as soon as Friday, August 19, 2011. I understand you may be effected by this potential change and wish to give you as much lead time as possible to ensure success should Kansas City, its police and public safety officials determine a curfew change is necessary.
Reducing crime in our neighborhoods and keeping our children safe will require a coordinate effort. It cannot just be the city, or the police department, or churches, or schools; rather it must be all of the above and more. Whatever the solution is, I know it begins and ends at home. Parents are the first and best option to monitor their children and keep them safe. "