Police departments establish Safe Internet Exchange Zones

Posted at 11:17 AM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2018-11-03 15:19:43-04

With the holidays just around the corner, lots of people are trying to make a little bit of spending money by selling items from their home. 

But, safety is always an issue when selling to a stranger. So, where should people meet?

The Belton Police Department encourages its residents to make all online exchanges at their Safe Internet Exchange Zone. The Zone consists of reserved parking spaces that are under 24-hour surveillance. 

"We wanted to give the citizens of Belton a safe place to be able to come and exchange items that have been purchased on Craigslist or Facebook, and make sure they're safe whenever they're doing it," Sgt. Kim Hamilton of the Belton Police Department said. 

Sgt. Hamilton said she has even sold items online before and chose to meet at a Walmart or Walgreens instead of her own home to be safe. Now, she said she takes advantage of the Safe Internet Exchange Zone at the police station.

"Even a law enforcement officer, I make sure that my family knows where I'm going to be, who I'm going to be meeting," Hamilton added. "I try to get as much information as possible so they know also."

Sgt. Hamilton said the parking lot is under 24-hour surveillance and encourages all central Texas residents to use the safe zones, not only this holiday season, but always. 

"It's a great area, it's very well lit in our parking lot so it gives the citizens of Bell County an opportunity to have a safe location," Hamilton said. 

One Killeen man, Matthew Hopkins, usually gives out his address and sells items straight from his home. But after learning of the Safe Internet Exchange Zones, he said he is more likely to meet people at these safe zones instead. 

"The world is an unsafe place and it's better if we have these places that you know people can feel safe at and feel secure," Hopkins said. 

Other stations throughout Central Texas that have established a Safe Internet Exchange Zone are:

  • Temple Police Department
  • Buckholts Police Department 
  • Cameron Police Department
  • Hewitt Police Department
  • College Station Police Department
  • Georgetown Police Department

Some of the stations mentioned above have signs to designate the safe zones and others do not but encourage people to use the station lobbies. Call your local police station and ask if they have a "Safe Internet Exchange Zone," and if so, where it is located.   

It is important to note the safe zones are typically marked with stripes painted on the ground. Stripes such as these would usually indicate 'no parking.' However, police departments urge citizens to read the signs and park in the safe zones marked with stripes. 

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