The Lafayette Police Department is hoping the creation of a “safe swap” area will make it less dangerous for area residents looking to unload their old couches or unwanted basketball tickets. The area, located at the city’s fire station at Union and Creasy Lane, will serve as a safe zone for people to complete transactions arranged through websites such as eBay or Craigslist or through more old-school means, like newspaper classifieds.
The announcement comes after police were called to a Lafayette apartment building earlier this week, where a man claimed he was robbed at gunpoint during a Craigslist transaction in a parking lot.
However, Lt. Brian Gossard of the LPD says the robbery is a coincidence and police have been working on finding a safe area for months.
“It was kind of brought about because of these types of situations, and it just happened to come on the heels of a robbery,” he says.
However, he adds the incident does illustrate the need for such an place: “As that kind of transaction system became more popular, it kind of reinforced that we needed to be a little bit more proactive in securing an area.”
Neither the police nor the fire department will be directly involved in monitoring the space, but Gossard says the location’s proximity to the fire station, as well as its visibility from busy streets and video surveillance, will hopefully keep people in line.
However, the location is not without its pitfalls. Lt. Todd Wagner of Fire Station 5 says after 10:30 at night, firefighters are usually asleep on the other side of the building and might not be aware if any crime occurs.
“You know, we’re in bed by 10:30 at night, and we’re on the other side of the building,” he explains. “if someone did need help, the likelihood of them reaching us…it probably wouldn’t happen.”
He also says the parking lot could use better lighting, and the station lacks a true law enforcement presence.
“The other option would be to put another substation here for the police,” he adds.
But since the site is monitored by a video feed, authorities could use the footage to try to catch anyone who is accused of a crime there.