Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police create ‘Safe Zone’

Published 2:53 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

The Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department has created a “Safe Zone” for residents.

The “Safe Zone,” which is located in front of the police department at 26296 US-12, is a spot where people can come and feel safe when exchanging items from Craig’s List or divorced parents can exchange their children with the knowledge that they are being video taped.

“We have been working on this for awhile,” Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal said. “This is something I thought would benefit the community in a couple different ways. It would be a place for people that if they are doing a Craig’s List sale, they can go and know that there are video surveillance. We have installed a really nice high definition camera on the front of our building that is recording 24-hours a day now. It will allow them to feel that level of safety because they are in front of the police department. Because, throughout the United States, we know there have been armed robberies for Craig’s list.

“By the same token, parents that are involved in the exchange of children, to have the benefit of having a video recording sometimes assist that too. Every time we have been talking to families in the past who want to do this, we recommend a video because there could possibly be complaints from either side.”

Kozal said that the “Safe Zone” does not have to be limited to exchanges for Craig’s List or custody swaps.

“It can be used for anything,” he said. “If somebody wants to know that there is a recording, it is there for them.”

Kozal and his department tested out the system before going live with it.

“I have spoken about it at some of my community meetings and people have been very receptive to it and like the idea,” he said. “Right now we direct a lot of people down to McDonald’s to do their exchanges because they have external video. This should be a lot more comfortable for them. How can people say no to doing a legitimate exchange in a police parking lot?”

The department has received the “Safe Zone” signage and it will be going up shortly.