Landis PD relocates safe exchange zone, lands new hire

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 30, 2023

LANDIS — The Landis police department recently moved its safe exchange zone to the front of the building because surveillance capabilities are enhanced there.

According to Department of Public Safety Director Kevin Young, the move was made because the video cameras on the side of the building where the safe exchange zone was previously located had obstructed views.

“It was under video surveillance, but there were trees between the video and the cameras and the parking,” Young said. “A lot of times, it could be blocked by the trees.”

Now that it is at the front of the building, no trees obstruct the view, and it remains under video surveillance.

So what is a safe exchange zone?

“It’s an area that is monitored by video, typically located at police departments, so there are a lot of times police officers coming in and out,” Young said. “People can use that to make exchanges of purchases they may have made online, like if they buy something off (Facebook) Marketplace or a website where someone has something sold, and they meet here to exchange goods for the money. If they are meeting someone they don’t know, this gives them a place to do that where it is safer for them.”

It’s not just for meeting up with strangers, though. Young mentioned that safe exchange zones are often used for separated parents to meet.

“If a mother and father separated, some people will use it for child swaps,” Young said. “That is monitored as well if it’s something with child custody, and they may not have a good relationship with the ex.”

Meeting in a place that is not monitored can be dangerous for multiple reasons.

“If it’s not monitored and it’s a man and woman that split because they are not getting along, if one accuses the other of doing something, it becomes a he-said, she-said,” Young said. “It’s the same thing if somebody buys something online and they bring the item and wind up trying to rob them of the money. Obviously, it’s safer at a police department.”

According to Young, malicious actors are, for obvious reasons, less likely to try something at a police department.

Young said that when the Landis police department created the safe exchange, it appeared to get some use, but he saw its usage decrease with time.

“When we first put it out, people used it for a while, but after that, I think it was kind of forgotten about,” Young said. “Hopefully, putting this back out there, it may remind people that we have it.”

In other Landis police department news, a new hire, Austin Gribble, was recently added to the roster, bringing the number of full-time officers within the department to seven.

Gribble completed 705 hours of training through the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, and received the Top Gun award for superior marksmanship during BLET.

When Gribble isn’t working for the police department, he can be found working at Rockwell Rural Fire Department. Gribble is married with two children and loves spending time on the lake with them.

Young said he also has a conditional offer on the table for another officer at the moment.

“If that works out, we will only have three vacancies left,” Young said.