Following a series of disturbances over the weekend, Kansas City Mayor Sly James is studying options on how to address the recurring problem of minors gathering on the Country Club Plaza into the early morning hours.
A dozen juveniles were taken into police custody after fights broke out in and around the Plaza late Saturday and early Sunday. Kansas City Police Sgt. Greg Williams estimated that up to 250 minors had congregated in the shopping district by the time the first disturbances were reported about 10 p.m.
The youths’ ages ranged from 7 to their late teens, said Williams, who was on the scene. Children as as young as 14 were still looking for rides home in the early morning hours, which James called irresponsible.
“Warm nights and unattended young people with limited safe entertainment options are once again causing issues,” James said in a statement and asked for parents’ help. “There is no good reason for 14-year-olds to be out at 2 a.m.”
Williams said it was the second straight weekend that minors unaccompanied by adults had caused trouble in the area, although it has been a perennial problem since at least 2010.
Police first broke up fights on the Plaza, then in Mill Creek Park and finally after midnight near the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Youths were detained on a variety of charges, including curfew violations, Williams said. The city has a midnight curfew on Fridays and Saturdays through Memorial Day weekend and 11 p.m. on weeknights.
A special 9 p.m. curfew starts in the summer months for the Plaza and four other entertainment districts. The Kansas City Council adopted those earlier hours after three youths were shot in a melee in August 2011.
The council also voted to keep some community centers open late on summer weekends to give youths an alternative to congregating on the Plaza, in Westport and in other entertainment districts. Known as Club KC, the 2013 program begins May 24.
James asked for parents to act responsibly.
“As we move toward getting summer programing in full swing, I need parents to know where their kids are and take action to make sure they are safe” James said.