Thursday, April 12, 2012

Plaza patrol plan goes into effect this weekend

We will implement our Plaza patrol plan this weekend to ensure everyone can safely enjoy the city’s most venerable entertainment and retail district.

The past two years, as the weather warmed up, hundreds of youth congregated on the Country Club Plaza. The crowds sometimes broke out into violence and intimidated Plaza visitors. We will not tolerate this. We will arrest juveniles for any criminal offenses and curfew violations.

We will have additional officers on the Plaza this weekend and every weekend through the fall. Most of these officers are on special over-time assignments, so police presence in the rest of the city will not be affected. Plaza management also is hiring additional off-duty KCPD officers and augmenting their private security. Mounted Patrol officers will be present on horseback. They have proved to be highly effective at crowd control. Officers on ATVs and a Tactical Team also will have a presence. Plain-clothes, under-cover officers also will be out, looking for signs of trouble.

A separate detention area for juveniles who are arrested will be set up and operated in a police facility.

At present, the curfew is 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends for anyone younger than 18. Those will become earlier in the summer: the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Sunday in September. In entertainment districts like the Plaza, the curfew will be 9 p.m. in the summer. In the rest of the city, the curfew will be 10 p.m. for those 15 and younger, and 11 p.m. for 16-and 17-year-olds. Parents will be issued citations for the curfew violations of their children.

We have sent letters to area schools asking them to remind parents that they are responsible for their children’s actions. Parents need to know their children’s friends and the parents of their friends. They need to know where their children are and what they are doing. They need to be monitoring their children’s social networks.

We ask parents, teachers and even young people to alert police if they hear about a large gathering being planned. Police will be monitoring social networks, as well.

Ultimately, youth congregating into unruly crowds in entertainment districts isn’t a police issue. It is a parenting and community issue. So we ask for the cooperation of parents and the community to make these entertainment districts the enjoyable places they were intended to be.

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