Councilman says disparity in curfew tickets “plague Kansas City”

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Councilman Jermaine Reed says Kansas City police officers are targeting African-American teenagers; and he says the curfew tickets written by cops prove his point. He claims the parents of African-American teenagers have expressed concern to him after seeing their teens cited for hanging out at the Country Club Plaza after curfew.

Reed went as far as saying, "These are disparities that plague Kansas City." He said he's personally seen police citing African-American kids for breaking the citywide curfew, while looking the other way for teens of other races and in other places.

“When you go to the Plaza in the summer months, and you see horses and you see officers spraying mace on young people, that's a great deal of concern. You don't see that in any other entertainment areas,” Reed said.

During Wednesday morning's City Council meeting, Reed presented KC totals from the months of July through December of 2013. He says 87 percent of citations issued for breaking curfew were written to African-American teenagers. Reed says the curfew ordinance is a confusing one for police officers to enforce.

Since the law differentiates based on the age of the person being cited, with provisions for summer rules versus other seasons, he says the law isn't evenly enforced at other entertainment venues.

“There have been parents of those teens that were cited who have frankly said they feel like their teenager were (sic) targeted just because of the color of their skin as well,” Reed said.

Bishop Tony Caldwell agrees with Reed's accusations against the police. He's a community activist who says he's worked to maintain peace in the city and on the Plaza.

“I understand curfews, which are good, but we need to have it across the board. One law fits all. We can't have different laws for different time points and different ages," Caldwell said.

Reed said that above all, the curfew needs to make sense.

"We do need to determine whether or not we have a common sense curfew that actually does make sense," Reed said.

Records show the average fine for those curfew citations is $40 apiece. FOX 4 News reached out to Kansas City police officials for a comment and received this statement from KCPD Captain Tye Grant:

"We enforce the ordinance as it was written and approved by the City. We cannot control who chooses to violate it and only enforce it against those that do."

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