Plaza Curfew Affects High School Students

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On Friday night, the Country Club Plaza seemed to be missing something…teenagers.

There is a new 9 p.m. curfew for anyone under 18 who is unaccompanied by an adult. This curfew also applies to four other entertainment districts: Westport, Downtown, 18th and Vine, and Zona Rosa.

The law was put in place in response to the shooting on Saturday, August 14, where three teens were injured. The curfew is designed to reduce violence and crime. It was introduced during a City Council session after a week of conversations in the community and committee hearings. The council voted 13-0 in favor of the law.

“The crowds were getting far too large, increasing risk to everyone on the Plaza,” Danny Rotert, communications director for the mayor, said.

Police will be enforcing the curfew by looking out for unaccompanied minors after 9 p.m. Violators will be taken to special “curfew centers” in the city, where their parents will be called and asked to pick their kids up. Also a fine of up to $500 can be imposed on the violator.

There are exceptions for the curfew though, such as, if an unaccompanied minor is there for an event that the city approved the presence of minors, they are on an emergency errand for an adult, or they are going home from a school event or job.

Business on the Plaza shouldn’t be affected too greatly by the new curfew though.

“The majority of things on the Plaza are for adults, people with money to spend,” Marilyn Gencur, a sociology teacher at West, said.

Bruce Adams, English teacher, works at the Apple store on the Plaza on Friday nights.

“Generally, I don’t think young people spend money. They’re not really there to shop,” Adams said.

So far, reactions to the curfew have been positive.

“We have now had three weekends without a curfew violation. There have not been crowds of young people anywhere. Parents across the area have responded well, and generally our young people are safer as a result,” said Rotert.

People seem to be embracing the new curfew.

“I saw a lot of people on the first night of the curfew. I think a lot of people came to show their support,” Adams said.

Some young people are hesitant about the curfew.

“I think it should be later, like 11. Certain things need to be done, even after 9,” Erin Murphy, freshman, said.

“I think it’s uneccessary,” Chelsea Kahn, sophomore, said.

Still, many people think that the curfew is a good idea and that it will help reduce violence.

“I think it is reasonable. I feel like everyone has been there to have a good time,” Adams said.

“I have never been for violence. It’s disappointing to hear what our community has come to,” Madison Lane, sophomore, said.

“When you have that many kids together with nothing to do but hang out, there is a higher chance for trouble. I understand safety is of primary importance. People don’t want to go somewhere that isn’t safe,” Gencur said. “But I really see both sides. I understand the kids’ point of view of where they can go to hang out. But the Plaza is one of the best areas in Kansas City. It is something to be proud of. It can’t become a place where no one wants to go. I’m glad that they did it, but I feel bad for the kids without options for places to go.”

Kids will still have places to go to hang out. The Hillcrest, Gregg-Klice, Aguirre, and Kansas City North community centers will be open until 11 p.m. on Friday nights and midnight on Saturdays with different programs and activities available for the kids.