You’ve bought an item on Craigslist and you’re about to meet the seller. So far, your exchange has solely been on the Internet. Where are you going to meet for the transaction? You haven’t met this person.
You’ve gone through a divorce and a court order requires that your child exchange be done in a public place. Where does that happen?
This past Friday, a kid exchange at an Exxon gas station in Stafford County turned deadly.
In a Craigslist exchange the buyer and/or seller is usually arriving with cash or an item whether that be a laptop or outdoor grill. The scenario is perfect for a pre-staged robbery.
Nationwide, police departments are responding.
In Washington, D.C. Chief Cathy Lanier with the Metropolitan Police Department announced in April that three “exchange zones” would be created specifically for online exchanges where residents or visitors could feel safe.
The Oak Forest Police Department in Chicago has done the same as has the Pittsburg Police Department. Tagged the “Craigslist and E-Commerce Safe Zone,” the Gainesville Police Department in Georgia created one as has the Alabaster Police Department in Alabama.
On Monday, the Culpeper Police Department showcased their Safe Trade Zone area.
“We’ve following suit with many of our surrounding localities,” said Captain Tim Chilton. “Spotsylvania has one as does Fredericksburg, Fauquier and Stafford.”
Designed to provide an enhanced atmosphere of safety, a camera has been mounted on the outside of the Roscoe Ford Building. It covers a range to include a large, white painted area about the size of two parked vehicles near the signage in the front of the building. It will run 24/7 and capture images of any transactions taking place in the zone.
“It’s for all those online transactions where you’ve agreed to meet…Facebook, Craigslist, E-Bay,” says Chilton, “but I suspect the majority of use will be for kid exchange.”
“It started today, can be used day or night and we’ve already contacted Neighborhood Watch groups that it’s available,” says Chilton who is optimistic that it will get good use and is definitely needed.
As an added service to offer the community, Chilton noted that they are in talks with local transportation companies about adding the police station as a bus stop.
“We’ll be able to capture images of exchanges occurring in the zone on camera,” said Chilton. “And you’ve got police officers on duty just inside should they be needed.”
“It’s a safe spot to do business.”
Anita Sherman may be reached at email@example.com