Local residents buying and selling cars and goods online now have a “Safe Exchange Zone” made up of designated parking spaces outside the Morgan Hill Police station. The zone is a place where people can meet with unknown buyers to transact a private sale. It is also available for safe child custody exchanges, says a press release from the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill.
The zone is intended to help online buyers and sellers avoid meeting up at private residences, big box store parking lots or service stations—or another unfamiliar location where safety isn’t always assured.
The new safety area is the “President’s Project” begun by outgoing Rotary Club of Morgan Hill president Terry Moriyama, in partnership with the Morgan Hill Police Department, says the press release. Moriyama saw the need for a safer space for online transactions when she was trying to sell her own car.
“South County residents are buying and selling items through websites, NextDoor, and the like,” Moriyama said. “This now gives them a safe place to make their exchanges. We also have couples exchanging children in custody arrangements, or for parental visits. If someone wants to be safe, making any kind of exchange, this will be the place to do it.”
The zone’s three, well-lit parking spaces are in the parking lot of MHPD headquarters at 16200 Vineyard Boulevard.
Rotary volunteers Chris Foster, Mario Banuelos and Chuck Berghoff volunteered with Moriyama to paint and label the parking spots with heavy-duty paint.
“We are grateful to partner with Morgan Hill Rotary to provide this meaningful service that enhances the feelings of safety for our community,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief Shane Palsgrove, who is also a Rotary member.
The Safe Exchange Zone‘s parking spaces are recorded by video 24 hours a day, says the press release. While video cameras will record the area, the MHPD advises that the optimal transaction time is 7am-5pm, Monday through Friday, during MHPD business hours. Safe Exchange availability is on a first-come, first serve basis. No reservations are available.
Morgan Hill Police officers will not be present during transactions, and video will not always be monitored in real-time, the Rotary press release continues. All exchanges must be person-to-person.
In the case of custody transfers, the Exchange Zone is not a drop-off where parents can leave children for a later pick-up time, the press release notes. The exchange of drugs, weapons, alcohol and other illegal items is not permitted.
For information about the Morgan Hill Safe Exchange Zone, visit https://www.morgan-hill.ca.gov/2325/Safe-Exchange-Zone.