DENHAM SPRINGS — People looking to sell an old cell phone replaced by an updated Christmas gift, or keep a New Year’s resolution to empty a closet are reminded by Denham Springs police to use caution in those sales.
A recent fatal shooting in Baton Rouge involving two LSU football players put the risk of a transaction with an unknown person in the spotlight.
A safety zone is set up at the Denham Springs Police Station, 447 Lamm St., for sellers to meet buyers to make a transaction, according to Police Chief Shannon Womack.
The transactions can take place in the lobby of the police station or in front of it, where a sign near the sidewalk announces the safety zone.
The Craigslist merchandise website, among others, has created an industry of people selling – and buying things – that require both parties to arrange a meeting. Numerous media reports recount one person robbing the other of money or the merchandise, including assaulting or shooting their victim.
Denham Springs established the safety zone in front of the police station in 2015, Womack said.
Denham Springs police officers do not participate in the transactions, but the parking lot or the lobby – which is under surveillance -- of the police station may act as a deterrent to a crime.
Police recommended such transactions be made during daylight hours if possible.
One party should get the name and contact information of the other party and what kind of vehicle he or she drives before they meet.
Municipalities across the country have added the layer of safety for online transactions.
SafeTradeStations.com offers a list of police stations across the U.S. that offer a similar service.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore has said police investigators believe Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jared Small were justified in the shooting of Kobe Johnson, 18, on Dec. 22.
Edwards-Helaire and Small met Johnson in person to sell an electronic item. The transaction on 68th Avenue turned into a robbery attempt and one of the LSU players fatally shot Johnson inside a truck.
Neither the district attorney nor Baton Rouge police have said which player fired the fatal shot or other details. The investigation is still ongoing.
Moore said the two players called 911 after the shooting and waited for police to arrive. They were cooperative when interviewed, he said.