Deadly shooting in Westport renews privatization push

August 27, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A shooting that killed an off-duty police officer in Kansas City’s Westport bar and entertainment district has renewed the push among business owners to privatize stretches of two streets.

KMBC-TV reports Westport business owner Bill Nigro said he and other business leaders want to privatize the streets so they can set up security, “wand” people, and prohibit guns.

His comments came after Officer Thomas Orr was killed last Sunday on the patio of Californos restaurant after an argument between patrons. The 30-year-old, who was a school resource officer for the police department in suburban Lee’s Summit, wasn’t involved in the dispute. There have been several other incidents of violence in recent months, including in July when an officer shot and wounded a man who was accused of firing into a crowd of people as bars closed.

Kansas City council members indefinitely postponed considering a privatization proposal just days before Orr was killed, angering Nigro and several other business owners. They argued that privatization is the best way to ensure police can screen for guns and protect the crowds that gather in Westport on busy weekend nights.

The Kansas City Star reports that the proposal called for closing stretches of two streets from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends and during large special events like St. Patrick’s Day to allow police and security to screen for weapons. Under a recent Missouri law, carrying concealed firearms is legal on public streets, so privatizing the streets allows for screening.

“I have three daughters in their 20s that come down here late every weekend,” Nigro told KMBC. “I don’t want to worry about them.”

Councilwoman Jolie Justus, who represents Westport, said she doesn’t support privatizing public property.

“If all we do is prevent guns in a two or four block area, the guns are just going to be on the perimeter of that area,” Justus said.