Effort to stop unruly Plaza crowds focuses on teens and curfew

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Volunteers with a Kansas City community outreach organization walked the Plaza Saturday night, keeping an eye on the area in an effort to dissolve any incidents that could mar the good experience of visitors.

Last weekend, police made arrests at the Plaza, taking away young people in handcuffs.

Three summers ago, visitors started to take notice of the crowds of teens on the Plaza, crowding them out, being disruptive and sometimes making them feel unsafe.

In response, the city implemented a curfew ordinance for parts of the year and put more police in the area. But that hasn't been enough according to the community volunteers out on Saturday.

Pat Clarke, a community liaison with the police department, gathered teens and volunteers on the Plaza to address the problem.

He asked them a simple, pointed question; "What do you need?"

The answers he hears shows the situation is more complicated..

They tell Clarke there's not enough to do where they live.

They get bored. They want a teen club.

Other teens say they hate being targeted and teens never like being told what to do, so for that reason, they say, the curfew ordinance doesn't work.

The curfew for teens under 18 is 9:00 p.m. in Kansas City's entertainment districts. (Plaza, Zona Rosa, Westport, 18th & Vine, Central Business district). Teens may stay out later if they are with a parent or legal guardian.

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