Maplewood offering safe place for transactions

A new Safe Exchange Zone opened Sept. 21 in Maplewood, offering residents a secure place to meet for internet and classified advertisement purchases or for custody exchange.

The Safe Exchange Zone is a few marked parking spaces in the Maplewood City Hall parking lot, near the police station, where constant surveillance is set up. City Hall is located at 1830 E. County Road B. 

Lt. Kerry Crotty said that anyone can use the Safe Exchange Zone, and there is no sign-up or renting process. People can just show up as they need it.

“It protects individuals in a couple of different ways,” Crotty explained. “We hope people will not commit crimes since they are right in front of the police department, but we also have the incident recorded if something does happen.”

Although Maplewood only has a few occurrences a year of thefts during private internet sales, exchange zones are becoming more common throughout Minnesota, according to a city press release.

Crotty explained that the idea for the project came from Chief Scott Nadeau, who set up a Safe Exchange Zone in Columbia Heights when he was chief of that city’s police department.

She added that in Maplewood the project took a collaborative effort between multiple city departments. 

“The IT department got the cameras installed and integrated into the rest of the city camera system. The public works department posted the new signs for the designated parking stalls,” Crotty explained.

She added that she and others in the police department coordinated the efforts, got the signs made with design help from the communications department and made sure the cameras were positioned to get the best views of the parking stalls. 

“The planning took a little bit of effort because we wanted to make sure the cameras were of good enough quality that it would be useful if an incident occurred,” she added. She said the cost of the project had not yet been finalized.   

Crotty said that if something goes awry during an exchange, the victim can call 911 or utilize the department’s night entrance, which is located a few feet from the safe zone and is open at all times. Once inside, someone can use the phone to contact dispatch.

“Footage will be reviewed if and when we hear of a crime or suspicious activity has taken place,” Crotty said. “The video is stored for a limited time, so if something happens the victim needs to contact us and make a report as soon as possible.”

 

-Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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