Since early 2015, Sheriff Office’s across the nation, working with town and county governments, have been opening up Safe Exchange Locations (also called “safe zones” or “swap spots”). Usually located at well-lit 24 hour locations (like a Sheriff’s Office) with clear video recording capabilities, county residents are able to engage in Craigslist pick ups in a safe location and divorced parents are able to meet and switch custody of their children in a safe environment.
Tuesday evening at the Board of Supervisors meeting in Bowling Green, Sheriff Tony Lippa announced that he will be introducing this program in Caroline County. The program will likely begin at the Sheriff’s office in Bowling Green, but over time and with very little county funding, we could see safe exchanges in Ladysmith, Port Royal, and Belmont – wherever there is a need. Very little is required for these operations, but strangers can feel safe meeting to exchange goods, knowing that the meeting area is under constant video surveillance.
The way people buy things is changing. Digital communication over computers and cell phones connects people who have things or services to sell like never before. The problem has been that anytime you use a service that puts one stranger in contact with another stranger, things can go very wrong, very quickly. Sheriff Lippa’s safe exchange program will allow Caroline Residents to know the safest places to meet and if a seller or buyer refuses to meet at a swap spot or safe exchange location, you can make of that information what you will.
Keeping up with changes in the economy and in citizen interactions is one of the hardest things for our local law enforcement to do, so I was very pleased to see that the Caroline County Sheriff’s office was aware of the problem and was willing to tackle it head on. This is a great program and as it is rolled out, I will continue to highlight it, making sure that local residents are aware of these locations.