HARLINGEN — One of the new trends in keeping communities safe is not only predicting where crime will occur but being proactive in stopping it.
That’s what Police Chief Jeffry Adickes said yesterday when he unveiled the Harlingen Police Department’s new community education initiative.
Three parking spots have been designated as a “Community Safe Zone” within the police department parking lot.
It is a proactive step in crime prevention and keeping the community safe, Adickes said.
The purpose of the safe zone is to create a designated area where citizens can safely meet when items are being bought and sold through websites such as Craigslist or other online markets or any other legal in-person transactions.
The safe zone was established to ensure there’s a safe public place to meet for all types of personal exchanges, including instances of a custody or child visitation exchange between parents or other family members.
The zone will be monitored at the designated time through cameras and police staff in the lobby.
“It is in the perimeter of our security system and it is a safe place,” Adickes said. “It takes a whole community to keep a city safe.”
Community safe zones are a fairly new idea to the area and around the nation.
Only a small number of police departments around the country participate and have safe zones.
Adickes said it began popping up in different locations about a year ago in response to robberies that have occurred.
Adickes assures no robberies in connection to Craigslist transactions have been reported locally in the last year to spur on this endeavor.
This is just something the city and police department want to do to make the community safer.
City Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn suggested the idea to Adickes about three months ago.
Ninety days later, the idea of a community safe zone has been realized.
The “Community Safe Zone” is located in the front parking lot of the police department.
There are three parking spaces identified with Community Safe Zone signs. The department encourages people who use them to limit their transactions to 15 minutes with the recommended hours being 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Adickes said if this initiative is productive, the department will add more safe zones around the city.
“Right now, this is our focus and we ask the community to take advantage of these three spaces,” Adickes said.