KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Westport will bring back metal detectors again starting Friday, July 3, because of a surge of customers returning to bars Friday and Saturday nights the past few weekends.
Just days before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, shots rang out in Westport killing a 17-year-old.
Westport usually starts blocking off the streets and adding metal detectors in the spring. This year that didn’t happen as scheduled because of the shutdown.
But Kim Kimbrough, executive director of the Westport Regional Business League, said for three straight weekends crowds have been “growing significantly.”
“If the photographs from the same time period are starting to look the same, it’s time to keep the guns out so we don’t have innocents getting shot,” Kimbrough said.
“If you can be cautious and prevent someone from bringing something in, I think that’s always a good idea. So why not?” Lucas Tillman, a Westport customer, said.
The two community members on the committee, who don’t get a vote on the business league’s activity, left a meeting this week frustrated by the lack of explanation as to how Westport came to the decision to start deploying metal detectors again during a pandemic.
“It’s kind of strange there’s pushback here because it seems like a fair request,” Phyllis Hardwick said.
“What safety is being taken for COVID? What safety is being taken to know when we need to use screeners to be able to get in? What is being done when we think about civil rights and discrimination,” Tricia Rojo Bushnell asked.
Westport said all screeners will have to wear masks and have their temperatures taken. Civil rights monitors will also be present.
The district has worked with several bars and restaurants to close streets and open up outdoor cafes. But there were questions about how that works during a more party-type atmosphere after dark.
“We are leaving it up to personal responsibilities. Hopefully people can read. Hopefully they are mature enough and familiar with the precautions,” Kimbrough responded.