Belchertown PD provides safe space for online transactions

  • The Belchertown Police Department now offers a new safe space to complete online transactions in the station’s front parking lot at 70 State St.

Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 01, 2016

BELCHERTOWN — For those looking to buy or sell items from online sites like Craigslist, there is now a new safe space to complete transactions.

The Belchertown Police Department announced last week that a part of the front parking lot at 70 State St. has been designated as an “internet purchase exchange location.”

“We’re kind of hoping that doing it in a location like this will help keep people on the straight and narrow,” Belchertown Police Chief Christopher Pronovost said.

The department announced the initiative on its Facebook page as well as the MYPD app. In less than 24 hours, the Facebook post had received 652 reactions, 315 shares and 76 comments — all positive.

Pronovost said he didn’t know if anyone has used the space yet but the department anticipates it will be used.

“We’re always just looking at different types of programs to help the community feel a bit safer in what they are doing,” Pronovost said.

Police don’t get involved with the transactions, Pronovost explained, rather they offer people a place to meet.

A sign in the parking lot notifies users of the space. Pronovost said in addition to providing a location, the area is covered by the building’s security cameras.

A similar program was started in Northampton in March 2015. At the time, the initiative was modeled after a similar service offered by the Chicopee Police Department for people looking to conduct business in a secure environment.

Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper said her office overlooks the e-commerce area and she’s seen a few people use it.

In the time it’s been a designated space, Kasper said there haven’t been any problems.

In Chicopee, the initiative has been ongoing for about a year and half and has been successful, according to public information officer Michael Wilk. He said in that time there haven’t been any issues and that a lot of people have messaged the department on Facebook about it.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.