Wed November 21, 2012
Council Cracks Down On Party Houses
Under a new ordinance, Kansas City Missouri police can crack down on after-hours clubs and nuisance parties.
An ordinance that received final city council approval Tuesday simplifies and speeds up the process of shutting down the after-closing nuisances.
The "party house control ordinance" was sponsored by council members John Sharp and Scott Wagner. They said the problem properties were illegal taverns selling liquor without being licensed.
The ordinance also applies to parties where liquor or drugs are not sold, but the hosts allow things to get out of control. The events targeted often involve up to 200 people. Typically, the "parties" don't start until after 1:30 a.m., and then last virtually all night.
Sharp, who has had the experience of having one of the offending properties in his own neighborhood, said he could sympathize with citizens who complain. He and Wagner agreed that when neighborhoods complain they want immediate action.
But under the system that existed before the passage of the Sharp-Wagner ordinance, immediate action was a virtual impossibility. Wagner explained that most of the nuisance houses do not allow people in except by invitation, and that the existence of a noisy party was not probable cause to get a search warrant in order to enter.
He said officers had to figure out how to get invited in and observe someone violating an alcohol or drug law. Then, he said, they had to make note of who was involved, leave and go get a warrant issued. Finally, the officers could return to the party house with authority to enter and make arrests.
The new ordinance, he explained, allows immediate action, because if the police department comes to the neighborhood and observes a large noisy gathering they can simply order the participants to disperse.
In addition to being told to break up the party, the host or after-hours club operator could also be fined up to $1,000 and/or spend up to six months in jail.