Baton Rouge police have set up a zone at its headquarters on Airline Highway where people can finalize transactions agreed upon at online sites.
Police stations across the U.S. have begun to offer designated areas, usually a parking lot or lobby, for residents for person-to-person transactions that began at online sites such as Craigslist.
Baton Rouge police set up 24-hour surveillance in its northeast parking lot at 9000 Airline Highway — which is where its headquarters are — to give people a safe place to make the final transaction, McKneely said.
“It’s kind of been trending across the country,” Baton Rouge police Lt. Johnny Dunnam said. “I know most safety e-commerce sites advise you to go to a well-lit, public place. We’re trying to be proactive here.”
The recent move to offer these zones started last year in Boca Raton, Florida, and spread through central Florida before it became popular in other parts of the country, according to national reports.
Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry invited the public in August to go to the city police building to make person-to-person sales.
In May, two men met in Ascension Parish to sell a gun when the supposed buyer turned the weapon on the seller and demanded his money.
“We welcome the public to show, inspect or purchase property that is for sale through e-commerce sites in order to conduct their online transactions in a safer way,” Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.
The Baton Rouge Police Department parking lot has already served as an ideal location for people to complete online transactions, McKneely said, but police are hoping to publicize this option by making it official.
“It was kind of an unspoken deal that people would come from other districts and make transactions,” McKneely said.
He said police hope to keep residents from being tricked or robbed.
“We know people are taking advantage of folks,” he said. “People have been scammed. There’s a need.”
McKneely said there has not been any uptick in the number of these schemes, though. Instead, police noticed that other police agencies were offering this service and decided to follow suit.
“We just wanted to let the public know we also have an area they can come to that is a safe place where they’ll feel comfortable,” McKneely said.
Dunnam said the police will offer this service for the foreseeable future.
Police ask that meetings and transactions take place during daylight hours, despite the parking lot’s 24-hour surveillance.
“You can come here and have video and feel protected because it’s at police headquarters with a wide-open area for everyone to see,” McKneely said.
SafeTradeStations.com offers a list of police stations across the U.S. that offer a similar service.
Follow Danielle Maddox Kinchen on Twitter, @Dani_Maddox4.