Hortonville Police Department serves as site
By John Faucher
The Hortonville Village Board approved creating one of the area’s first Internet exchange safe zones at its Jan. 21 regular board meeting.
The exchange zone is located in the south side parking lot of the Hortonville Police Department at 531 N. Nash Street.
Two overhead lights and a surveillance camera cover the area just outside the police department’s squad room windows.
The exchange zone is open 24 hours, and people do not need to ask permission to use the area.
“We prefer people trade or make their exchanges during the day, but we understand that doesn’t always happen,” said Hortonville Police Chief Michael Sullivan. “Our goal is to do everything we can to make it safe for the consumer and the seller.”
He added, “Nowadays more and more people are using social media, Craigslist, eBay and other means to conduct business, and often they find themselves meeting with strangers at unsafe locations to exchange things. It is never safe to make an exchange with a stranger at a residence. We have all heard some of the bad things that already happened to people in other cities, towns and villages. We’re just trying to remove some of that danger.”
The village’s safe zone will be marked with a large reflective sign outside the window of the police department.
“Right now the sign is not up because the ground is still frozen, but we would still prefer people to use our parking lot for exchanges,” said Sullivan. “The sign will be installed as soon as the ground thaws.”
He said that while the area is under 24-hour recorded camera surveillance, there may or may not be an officer watching a monitor, or looking out the window every moment.
Village board members liked the idea of having a safe zone for e-Commerce, but asked if there were any extra costs to the police department.
Sullivan said the camera surveillance system is already in place and running 24/7. He also told board members he would apply for a grant to obtain an additional camera in the future.
Carl McCrary, director of Public Works said the sign would be made at a relatively low cost.
“Based on history, and what we’ve heard can happen to people making these types of transactions, we thought this was a good project,” said McCrary.
The safe zone is available to anyone regardless if they are a resident.