Visitors now go through security in Westport on weekends
Westport only had a few weekends to test its new “enhanced security screenings” before the late-night crowds dispersed for the season in 2018.
But it was time enough to see some glitches and fix them for this season.
Now people visiting the entertainment district from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays will find six security checkpoints, two more than in 2018.
There also will be eight walk-through metal detectors — double the number in 2018 — to speed up lines, a problem at the Mill Street checkpoints in 2018.
The checkpoints will again be at Westport Road and Mill Street; Westport Road and Broadway Boulevard; Archibald Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue; and Pennsylvania and the entrance to the Manor Square parking garage.
Two new checkpoints will be on either side of the Westport “alley,” just off Mill Street, behind Qdoba Mexican Eats and in front of Johnny Kaw’s Yard Bar.
Visitors will have to empty their pockets and have their bags checked with a hand-held metal detector, while also walking through a metal detector, to enter the pedestrian-only area.
The checkpoints at 40th and Pennsylvania, and Broadway and Westport Road typically had the shortest lines in 2018. Visitors who enter the district before 11 p.m. can avoid the lines altogether.
Westport said the screenings are similar to those at professional sporting venues: weapons and large metal objects are prohibited. Details are available at westportkcmo.com/safety. The goal is prevent late-night violent crime in the popular district, which has seen shootings and assaults.
“It’s obviously our intent to try to keep our patrons as safe as possible and we think this is a logical next step to continue that trend,” said Franklin Kimbrough, executive director of the Westport Regional Business League.
Vehicles will not be able to enter or leave the pedestrian zones from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends. Visitors can use the ParkMobile.io app to find available nearby spaces that are outside the pedestrian area. They also can park in the Manor Square garage for a fee.
The screenings are scheduled to start Friday, April 5, unless it “rains, there’s a tornado or a blizzard,” Westport officials said. The security checkpoints would then go into effect on April 13 — again, weather permitting.
The screenings began after Kansas City Council voted in December 2017 to allow privatization of some sidewalks in the entertainment district. Under Missouri law, police can screen for concealed weapons on private but not public property.
But it took about nine months before the screenings began. The privatization transfer occurred in August 2018 and the first enhanced checkpoint screenings started Saturday, Sept. 1.
Like last year, the screenings this year are scheduled to continue through October, depending on weather conditions.