In an increasingly dangerous world of online marketplace transactions, we all could use a bit more safety — and law enforcement in the High Country is making that happen.

The old advice of “make your deals in public” doesn’t always work out today. The parking lots of major department stores, for example — once considered safe zones for conducting transactions in trading stuff for cash — have been the sites of muggings, robberies and in some areas of the nation, killings.

The idea of SafeTrade, reportedly inspired by Milwaukee, Wis., police officer Lisa Saffold in 2012, is a better option, law enforcement officers say.

The plan of SafeTrade is simple:

1. Agree to meet the buyer or seller only at a law enforcement facility.

2. Meet only during daylight hours unless the facility has a 24-hour indoor facility designated for such transactions.

3. Meet inside the facility if possible.

4. If you can’t meet inside the facility, meet in the parking lot where there are typically officers coming and going and cameras recording the area.

In Watauga County, one example is what Sheriff Len Hagaman has designated as a “safe trade zone” in the sheriff’s office parking lot at 184 Hodges Gap Road, Boone. Useful for car trades and other transactions, the pad in front of the office and parking lot to the left as you face the building is under 24-hour recorded surveillance.

And, if someone wishes to conduct a transaction at the office — which is also useful for child custody exchanges — the sheriff has opened this possibility with a “they are more than welcome to do so.”

We encourage other counties to follow this lead — and local marketers to take advantage of it.

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