GRAND ISLAND — Law enforcement officials have created a new safe zone in Grand Island where buyers and sellers can meet for transactions and separated parents can transfer their children to one another.
The Transaction Safe Zone is in the Law Enforcement Center parking lot along East Highway 30. Officials hope the new location will provide a neutral meeting space and prevent conflicts and robberies.
Grand Island police said they haven't seen any local cases of people being robbed or scammed, but the space is a response to the growing number of people who buy and sell goods online.
Two parking stalls have signs identifying the area, which opened Dec. 17.
Officers won't be physically present at the transactions. But the Police Department and sheriff's office hope the location and video surveillance will serve as a deterrent to fraud and theft. Good lighting is also provided.
Sgt. Quinn Webb of the Hall County Sheriff's Office said it's common for arguments to take place when children are handed off.
Sometimes, when exes or former spouses exchange children, "the new significant other is there with them. And that causes problems," Webb said.
No audio equipment is present, so the conversations are not recorded. But a video recording might prove helpful in case something did happen, Grand Island Police Capt. Dean Elliott said.
Webb said he was not aware of any Internet transaction-related robberies locally. But he knows people are nervous about meeting at someone's residence "or posting things on Craigslist and having people come to their residence."
Some people have conducted transactions in the parking lot of the Bosselman Travel Center. That area is well-lit, Elliott said.
But the Police Department and sheriff's office wanted a more secure location — "someplace that's being video-recorded 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Elliott said.