Powhatan sheriff installs ‘safe exchange zone’

In the continued effort by the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office to put the ‘community’ in ‘community policing,’ Sheriff Brad Nunnally has established a video monitored, open and readily discernable ‘safe exchange zone.’ This parking area can be used to conduct child custody exchanges or personal sales transactions for items purchased online or through the classified ads.

The site is located along Marion Harland Road in the Courthouse Square complex right next to the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Building and across the street from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office closer to Old Buckingham Road. There are gold painted boxes on the pavement and the zone is signed on each end and in the middle. It may be used by anyone on a first-come, first-served basis to conduct face-to-face meetings in a secure, video-recorded environment. It is available Monday through Friday from five in the afternoon to seven in the morning. On Saturday and Sunday it is available twenty-four hours each day, as well.

A sign marking the location says: “Safe Exchange Zone Parking. This area is under twenty-four hour video surveillance. For emergencies call 911. For non-emergencies call (804) 598-5656.” A high resolution camera was added to the existing courthouse security camera system. This camera will be recorded continuously twenty-four hours a day. If a situation between parties arose at the spot, a dispute or a robbery for example, the sheriff’s office would have video footage to review to see what happened as well as obtain suspect identification and vehicle registration information.

The sheriff’s office could not have created this zone without the invaluable assistance of local VDOT personnel who painted the lines for the parking places and put in place the signs marking the area. They worked with the sheriff’s office at each step of the way.

This type of site is being replicated across the state in answer to the crimes being committed at the scene of child custody exchanges and business transactions. With more and more people doing business with unknown parties they “meet” on the internet and through the classifieds, it just makes sense to have a safety net in place to discourage those that would use these activities to become predators.

If you have any questions about the use of this zone, please don’t hesitate to call Sergeant Brad Luxford at 804-598-5757 or email him at [email protected].

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