Stevens Point police install ‘Safe Exchange Zone’

By Brandi Makuski

Need a safe location to pick up that iPad you bought on Craigslist? Or a public location for a child custody exchange?

The Stevens Point Police Department has your back.

After someone requested video footage of a recent child custody exchange in the department’s parking lot at 933 Michigan Ave., Assistant Police Chief Robert Kussow said it occurred to him that it’s quite common for people to meet outside of the SPPD.

“I realized it’s probably every other day we see someone in our parking lot doing a custody exchange,” Kussow said on Thursday. “It’s just a little extra layer of safety.”

Lt. Dana Williams said people tend to meet in the parking lot because the department’s video surveillance makes them feel more secure when meeting a stranger in person to complete a purchase they initiated online.

Now, the department has identified a specific location close to the entrance, well-lit, and under constant video surveillance.

The department gave up three of its parking spaces on the north side of the lot, directly across from the main entrance of SPPD, to designate as a Safe Exchange Zone. Kussow said he commissioned two large signs from the city’s streets department that were installed the morning of July 15, which makes it official.

“This way, everyone knows everything is on video—on the driver’s side and the passenger side, we see everything,” Kussow said.

The Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office installed something similar in front of the Law Enforcement Center in 2016. 

Kussow registered the location with SafeExchangePoint.com, a national database of verified safe locations for individuals to meet people they don’t know in a public area under video surveillance.

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