KC police pleased with Westport security upgrades beginning this weekend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Enhanced security measures begin Friday night in the Westport entertainment district as nightclubs gear up for larger crowds in warmer months.

The changes are designed to eliminate long lines.

A city permit allows Westport merchants to privatize the sidewalks, creating a pedestrian-only zone on Friday and Saturday nights.

Beginning Friday night, the entertainment district is adding two new screening checkpoints along the Westport alley, near Mill Street, and is doubling the number of walk through metal detectors from four to eight.

From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, visitors will be checked for weapons at these screening stations before they can get into the entertainment district.

Police said between six and 10 off-duty officers usually work within the pedestrian-only zone.

"I can’t give you a number as far as how many instances they came across a weapon, but it's a great deterrent," KCPD Capt. Tim Hernandez said. "People know when they come up there immediately, they are not allowed to have a weapon inside the entertainment district. If they approach the gate, the signs clearly mark what they can and cannot have. So I think it's a great deterrent. If someone does have a firearm on them, they know they need to return it to their vehicle and secure it safely."

Hernandez said last year when security checkpoints started, there were long lines to get into Westport. The changes are designed to make it more convenient and safe for customers.

The security setup is similar to what's in place at the Power & Light District, which is a little easier for owners there to control who's allowed into an area that's all private property.

Police said they've been pleased with how the checkpoints have worked so far in helping to prevent a mass casualty incident. Westport hires private security to conduct the additional screenings. Police are not adding any extra staffing to Westport compared to last year.

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