Despite the number of crimes surrounding online classified ads like Craigslist and its ilk, there is no stopping people from resorting to these services and transactions to make a quick buck or buy some rare oddity. And despite all that has happened, some still agree to meet in very shady locations or circumstances. So in the absence of some common sense, what are law enforces to do? Why offer to become the witnesses and the drop point of said transactions, of course!
Several police stations in the country have started programs that would turn their lobbies into ad hoc meetup points for sellers and buyers. The latest to do so is the police department in Columbia, Missouri, but it only follows the trend already started by the likes of Virginia Beach last week, and East Chicago and Boca Raton last year. Depending on your views of law enforcers, there is perhaps no better place to meet up than at a police station.
More often than not, these stations have surveillance cameras and, of course, 24/7 personnel. The mere presence of these factors can already be a deterrent for those that have other intentions in mind. Then again, it might also scare off those who have a less than trusting opinion of cops. Either way, These programs offer a middle ground, both figuratively and literally, for two parties to meet with the implied, but not guaranteed, promise of security.
That said, these “Online Exchange Zones” will limit what you can exchange. Firearms are definitely a no-no and stolen or illegal goods are unlikely to be flaunted around in a police station. For everything else, these stations can provide more peace of mind even compared to a public place like Starbucks. Now if only the served good coffee too.