Kingsport police offers “Safe Exchange Zone” for residents

Kingsport Police Department's Safe Exchange Zone (Source: Kingsport Police Department)

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Kingsport police have created a “safe exchange zone” at their department. The goal is to help you buy or sell items online.

The safe exchange zone is an area outside the police department that is two parking spaces under 24-hour surveillance.

The following is a release from the Kingsport Police Department:

“Effective immediately, the Kingsport Police Department is offering a new “Safe Exchange Zone” service to citizens. K.P.D.’s “Safe Exchange Zone” consists of two designated parking spaces in the parking lot behind Kingsport City Hall, located at 225 West Center Street, adjacent to the Kingsport Justice Center.

These two parking spaces are under video surveillance, 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a-year, with parking being restricted to a 15-minute time limit.

The concept behind K.P.D.’s “Safe Exchange Zone” is to give citizens a safe place to conduct transactions with other individuals, particularly individuals who are complete strangers, but also with known individuals with whom they expect potential problems.

More and more citizens are making purchases in person after initially seeing something listed for sale either online or in a traditional newspaper classified advertisement. Classic social media applications, such as FaceBook, have offered online yard sales for quite some time. Newer more specialized services, such as LetGo, offer free, person-to-person, mobile classifieds applications, that allow users to buy from, sell to, and chat with others locally.

The common theme with all of these transactions is that people are arranging to meet with completely unvetted strangers with cash in hand. “Safe Exchange Zone” offers a clearly marked, well-lit, and very public spot, under constant video surveillance, strategically located adjacent to the Kingsport Police Department, as a site to conduct these person to person transactions between complete strangers.

On a national scale, frightening stories have been told of crimes, such as thefts, robberies, assaults, or worse, being committed during these types of transactions. Fortunately, the Kingsport Police Department has not seen this particular type of crime trend locally. It is our hope that this proactive approach of offering a “Safe Exchange Zone” to our citizens will help this positive cycle continue in Kingsport.

As an added benefit, K.P.D.’s “Safe Exchange Zone” can also be used for child custody swaps between divorced or estranged parents, particularly when there has been a history of significant problems or disagreements between the parents during past exchanges.”

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