Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chief Seeks Teen Curfew in Columbia, Mo; Shootings Prompt Call, but Previous Efforts Have Failed and Some Council Members Do Not Support Curfew

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chief Seeks Teen Curfew in Columbia, Mo; Shootings Prompt Call, but Previous Efforts Have Failed and Some Council Members Do Not Support Curfew

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. * Columbia's police chief is calling for a teen curfew after a recent spate of shootings that has city leaders and many residents on edge.

Chief Ken Burton said Wednesday he will develop a formal proposal for City Council consideration within the next month. He spoke at a City Hall news conference along with Columbia's mayor and five council members several of whom immediately said they do not support the chief's recommendation.

The move comes after four shootings over nine days in the central Missouri college town, including a late-night weekend spray of gunfire at a downtown intersection in which three young men were wounded as dozens of onlookers hovered close by, eager to watch the fight unfold. A cellphone video of the June 15 shooting at Tenth Street and Broadway quickly went viral. Later Wednesday, police arrested a 20-year-old Columbia man on suspicion of first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

On Sunday, Anthony Unger, 25, of Jefferson City was shot dead in what Burton called a drug deal gone bad. Two people have been arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, but police said neither pulled the trigger.

"There's absolutely no reason any child under the age of 17 should be downtown at one in the morning," Burton said. "We're putting our children in harm's way."

Burton then appealed for support from "every law-abiding citizen in this city," mindful that previous proposals for a Columbia curfew have failed in recent years. He suggested city voters consider the measure if elected leaders balk, and said he'd be willing to craft a temporary policy that would expire after two years once its impact could be measured.

A police unit dedicated to downtown patrols was not on duty at the time because the patrol members had worked the previous six weekends, the chief said. City Manager Mike Matthes later said he plans to ask the council to approve the hiring of three officers in the upcoming fiscal year. …

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