Residents glad for 'safe exchange zone'

Residents glad for 'safe exchange zone'
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -Online shoppers in Stephens County should feel safer doing in-person transaction exchanges now that a designated "safe exchange zone" has been placed at the Stephens County Courthouse.

The safe exchange zone is designed to provide a safe location for online shoppers to make sales transaction exchanges with other sellers or buyers.

Online shoppers who use sites like Craigslist, Facebook and other e-commerce pages often meet in-person to make their exchanges. This can be dangerous when you don't know the person you are meeting, or whether their intentions are honest. The area is under video surveillance 24/7 and is watched by personnel at all times, which will give shoppers more confidence when meeting someone.

Duncan resident Kristi Pollock occasionally shops online, and has made a few in-person exchanges in the past. She says she has not had any bad experiences making an exchange so far. Pollock says she's had to meet in retail parking lots and other locations, but says her safety in those situations have always been a concern for her.

"There's not a lot of great places where you feel safe, especially being female. You know, if I'm meeting a male, it makes me a little uncomfortable, and so I was really thrilled to see that there's actually a place that's surveillanced, safe that I can come to and not worry about those issues," Pollock said.

Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney got the idea from a concerned citizen. Sheriff McKinney says after researching what they could do to provide protection at these exchanges, he took the idea to the county commissioners, and they approved it. Sheriff McKinney says while no incidents have been reported yet, the goal is to help prevent them from ever happening.

"I think we need to be proactive in everything we do. You know, we can stop one incident, then we've accomplished our goal. I think this was a very inexpensive way to add another safety element for the people who live in our county," Sheriff McKinney said.

Sheriff McKinney says he has made exchanges in-person before from an online purchase. He says this safe exchange zone will give people more confidence to meet with sellers or buyers.

"This just makes it much more safer. If we can do it under video surveillance, in a sheriff's office, at the courthouse, then it's going to make...keep the transaction...keep everybody honest," Sheriff McKinney said.

Pollock says now that there is a designated safe exchange zone located in her area, she is definitely going to use it for future exchanges.

"This would be my number one go-to place for those trades. I also have a direct sales business that I meet people to sometimes buy products, and this would be another great place to do that. I'd feel comfortable doing that and not worrying about the safety of myself or my family that I might have with me," Pollock said.

The designated location is reserved spot: number eight, where the "Safe Exchange Zone" sign is posted. It's located on the west side of the courthouse in the parking lot next to 12th Street and Maple Street.

Sheriff McKinney says this is the only location they plan to designate as a safe exchange zone, for now.

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