Harris County sheriff posts signs in attempt to make online sales safer

The Harris County Sheriff's Office created designated "safe exchange zones," designed to soothe uneasiness over online transactions.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office created designated "safe exchange zones," designed to soothe uneasiness over online transactions.

HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is trying to make online sale pickups safer within the community. Sheriff Mike Jolley is no stranger to posting what’s on his and his staff’s minds. After seven terms in office, Jolley decided to follow up a controversial sign he posted back in December of 2015. The “politically incorrect” sign spells out the mindset of the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Jolley hopes his latest signs, posted Monday, spell out safety for his citizens.

“Well it’s all about keeping your citizens safe and having them comfortable about anything that takes place,” Jolley said.

Jennifer Whiteaker and Chance Parker say they feel a lot more secure knowing they can now exchange anything they buy or sell online on the sheriff’s office grounds.

“I thought it was a really good idea because I do a lot of bartering, buying, selling and trading things,” Parker said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office created designated "safe exchange zones," designed to soothe uneasiness over online transactions.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office created designated “safe exchange zones,” designed to soothe uneasiness over online transactions.

“If I did meet someone to buy something on the internet, it would have to be a safe place, like say a restaurant or a gas station,” Whiteaker said. “Somewhere well lit.”

Sheriff Jolley says his staff brought up the idea of creating safe exchange zone signs to soothe the uneasiness of doing business online. However, even if people take every precaution to stay safe, the sheriff notes that worry still lingers in the back of their minds.

“There’s that small apprehension of worry to the citizens,” Jolley said. “Are they going to get ripped off, is it still safe, is it a place they feel comfortable at?”

“There’s a lot of liability when you’re going to do things like that,” Parker explained about online sales. “Because if you’re going to buy a gun, they know you have money. What if they choose to rob you of that money you’re going to buy the gun with? It’s always a big if when you’re buying stuff like that.”

Parker says he wants to go into the car-flipping business. He believes safe zones like the ones Harris County has installed and other surrounding Georgia counties are mulling could accommodate several business transactions. Sheriff Jolley says the zones will be under constant surveillance. The office will even provide a service to run VIN and serial numbers for items to show proof of ownership and prevent thefts or potential scams. Custodial duties can also be handled by family member exchanges at the designated safe zone spots.

Sheriff Jolley tells News 3 taxpayers did not have to bear the burden of paying for the signs. Seized drug money provided the necessary funds to pay for them. He adds that Columbus Police, Troup, Muscogee and Meriwether Counties are all considering adopting similar safe zones for online sales.

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