Monitored, recorded, and safe: Arab Police Department’s ‘e-commerce exchange zone’ encourages a safe meeting place between strangers

ARAB, Ala. -- The Arab Police Department has a new designated 'e-commerce exchange zone' outside its building as a way for people to meet in a monitored safe area.

You hear about it all the time -- someone trying to sell or buy something online, only to become the victim of a crime. As selling and buying things on the internet is a common occurrence, unfortunately, that situation can frequent as well.

The goal for a project between the City of Arab and the Arab Police Department aims to remedy that.

Tuesday, crews were outside the Arab Police Department creating what is called an 'e-commerce exchange zone'. It's a monitored, recorded, and safe designated area for people to meet. "Anybody that is selling Craigslist items, Ebay items, anything where they're meeting someone who they don't know, they can pull up into these two designated spots," Chief Ed Ralston explains, "We have signs that designate those spots, and then we have 24 hour surveillance on that with a high-definition camera."

Ralston says that camera allows officers inside to keep an eye on the exchange, note vehicle tag numbers if something goes wrong, and monitor the situation to make sure it's safe.

The two designated parking spots are noted with signs and they're directly in front of the police department. "It is monitored by our dispatcher in here, and it is recorded 24 / 7," Ralston explains.

In addition to online sales, Ralston says the zone can be used for parents with custody arrangements. "We would like them to meet in this, because we have had arguments develop as they do this, and so we would like them to meet in the same spot," Ralston says, "That way if anything breaks out or if there's a protection order or anything that might be violated then we'll have that on camera as well."

The idea is to encourage a safe place to meet where you can feel secure.