The City of Oneonta has created three “Safe Exchange Zone” spaces located in the parking lot of The Little Brick Church. The spaces, indicated by green striping and signage, are exclusively dedicated for individuals who are either exchanging children pursuant to a custody order or those exchanging property from an online sale. It’s also under 24-hour surveillance, so it provides some security and sense of protection for residents undergoing exchanges.
“The Safe Exchange Zone makes these types of exchanges easy, quick, and safe,” explained Oneonta Mayor Richard Phillips. “Particularly with custody exchanges, often times tensions are high or even volatile, so the zone offers individuals the safety of a public space under surveillance. Also, in the event an altercation does occur, we have camera footage of the incident. Similarly, when you buy and sell from online sources, the exchange is usually made between individuals who do not know each other. We have all seen the horror stories, and we just want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure our residents’ safety.
“These are the types of things I feel a municipality should provide to its residents. It was a quick project, it was inexpensive and it seems to have already generated a lot of positive attention. City services don’t always have to be on a grand scale. If we have made the exchange between parents safe and calm for a little boy or girl, the job is done. If we prevented a person from being assaulted or robbed during a sale exchange, it’s worth it!”