KC police lay out weekend plans to curb problems on the Plaza

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City police say they will have an increased and "extremely visible" presence on the Country Club Plaza this weekend.

KCMO Deputy Police Chief Cy Ritter said if a tougher curfew is enacted, police will also bring along a bus to hold teens who break curfew until their parents are located or they're taken to other centers.

In the long term, the debate is whether to open community centers to detain kids.

But there are questions about how much space would be needed, and how to separate boys from girls and younger kids from older teens.

"We'll have a 17-year-old that is babysitting 11 and 12-year-old siblings on the Plaza. Then what do you do when you have an adult that is there, but can be considered part of the problem?" asked Ritter while talking with reporters afterward.

Council members are still trying to agree on details of a tougher curfew.

Rev. Michael Brooks questions making it as early as 9p.m.

"The curfew is more about the age of the kids down there, holding parents more accountable. The curfew is not going to solve the problem. It's a lot more than just what time the kids have to be in," said Councilman Brooks.

Police are taking an officially neutral stance on the curfew, but say citywide curfew enforcement could delay police response to other crimes.

During Wednesday's public safety committee meeting, council members are raised concerns about concentrating police on the Plaza, at the expense of other parts of town.

Police say they will keep coverage by bringing in extra officers on overtime.

But Ritter says the department can't afford to keep paying out the extra overtime long term without more money from the city.

Last weekend, police had 27 officers plus a couple of commanders assigned to the entertainment district, meaning at least a doubled presence this weekend.

Talks of a curfew were brought up last week by the group who owns and manages the buildings on the Plaza, Highwoods Properties, and brought to the forefront when a shooting Saturday night injured three teenagers.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James was about 50 yards away from the victims when they were shot. He was not injured, but has spent a good deal of time this week in talks with city and community leaders about what can be done to curb problems in the Plaza.

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