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Westport crime decreases after enhanced security

Posted at 8:16 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 19:00:05-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Westport has seen less criminal activity since implementing enhanced security in 2018.

From April through October last year, six checkpoints were set up, requiring visitors to go through a metal detector before entering the area. More than 286,000 people passed through the devices in that timeframe.

Kim Kimbrough, of the Westport Regional Business League, addressed in a community meeting on Wednesday how much those additions affected the area.

Because of the detectors, four firearms were intercepted. Seven “undisclosed masses of metal” also were discovered, and the people associated with those discoveries left the area.

The following items also were intercepted:

  • Two box cutters.
  • 29 knives longer than 3 inches.
  • Six tasers.
  • One pair of long scissors.
  • One pepper-spray fogger.

Westport safety officers also discovered two guns hidden outside of the security gates.

Security personnel turned away 31 people because of weapons or because they would not disclose the “mass of metal” that was detected.

Kimbrough said Missouri’s open-carry law going into effect in 2017 “opened the flood gates” for Westport’s issues that year. In 2017, there were 66 weapon offenses. There were 28 such offenses in 2018 and 12 in 2019.

Thirteen businesses also closed in 2017, resulting in a roughly $300,000 decline in sales tax collections for 2018.

“They couldn’t sustain the months of down sales and activity that occurred because of the shootings from the summer of ’17,” Kimbrough said.

Other effects of weekend security included a drop in underage drinking offenses and fewer disorderly conduct violations.

The added security measures make some people feel safer in the district.

"I feel like it’s a little more safe now because a couple months there were shootings all the time," said Javier Salcedo. "It was just uncomfortable to have fun here because it was like, am I going to be alive after the party? So I feel safe now they started doing that."

The cost of the security measures was more than $122,000 for the 2018 season.

The KCMO City Council still has the final say on extending the privatization of the sidewalks to allow this security program to happen for the coming season.

The added security takes effect on Friday and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the months of April through October.