The Upper Arlington Police Division recently created a safe zone in hopes of eliminating risks in the sometimes murky world of internet-driven transactions.
Internet marketplaces such as Craigslist, Letgo or Facebook Marketplace offer opportunities for individuals to find any number of items for purchase.
But when conducting business online, oftentimes people literally don't know who they're dealing with, and the physical exchange of money for goods can be a daunting and sometimes dangerous proposition.
That's why the police department established an "Internet Purchase Exchange Location" outside the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
The area at the southeast corner of the building, which is designated by a small sign, offers a place where people can make transactions in an area that's frequently crowded with bystanders, is within steps of the UAPD and is under 24-hour video surveillance.
"We found a place that was visible by our security cameras," officer Bryan McKean said.
"We're just trying to provide a safe space for people who are meeting strangers for these types of transactions."
The exchange location was the idea of DARE officer E.J. Windham, who said it came to him after his experiences handling incoming calls for police services.
"Having worked the police desk for many years, I've taken plenty of calls asking about internet transaction safe zones," Windham said. "I approached Chief (Tracy) Hahn about it, she liked the idea, we put the signage design together and here we are.
"Basically, my goal was to provide a safe environment for those that are wary about internet transactions with persons they don't know."
McKean said officers hope the fact the location is at a municipal building that includes police department headquarters and a partial fleet of police cruisers in the parking lot would deter transactions involving people with nefarious intent.
In addition to 24-hour surveillance, that portion of the lot often is monitored by officers on desk shift, he said.
"Our police department is a place where there's constant activity," McKean said. "People are moving about in and out of this building 24 hours a day.
"If you come here to do a transaction, there are going to be people around. It's not a secluded area."
McKean said that issues arising from internet transactions haven't been widespread in Upper Arlington.
He said in the past eight years, he can remember two reported instances when someone was duped or there was physical violence.
Still, he said the Internet Purchase Exchange Location makes sense for the community.
"Much of what we do is reactive," he said. "This is one of those times we get to be proactive. We're doing this because we don't want there to be a problem."
"We found a place that was visible by our security cameras. We're just trying to provide a safe space for people who are meeting strangers for these types of transactions."
-- BRYAN MCKEAN
UA police officer