NISKAYUNA – The Niskayuna Police Department parking lot is one of the newest places in the Capital Region where people can conduct a safe exchange from an internet sale.
The Town Board voted 4-0 Tuesday evening during its board meeting to create two parking spaces just outside the police station at 1 Niskayuna Circle that anyone could use to exchange items. That area is also under camera surveillance. Town Board member Rosemarie Perez Jaquith was absent.
“This has been a great collaboration with our police chief who embraced the concept from the beginning and proposed ways to make it more effective,” said Denise Murphy McGraw, who brought forward the idea.
Chief Fran Wall could not be reached for comment.
Niskayuna follows communities like Amsterdam and Albany who already offer their department lobby and parking lots.
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins advised anyone meeting someone they don’t know to be cautious following the death of a 15-year-old Monday during a meeting set up via social media that ended in a shooting.
“I think it’s very, very important people are aware of their surroundings, that they’re cautious of arranging meetings over social media with people they don’t know,” he said during a press conference Tuesday morning.
He said the police station is open to people looking to do exchanges. If someone doesn’t want to use the police station, he said people should then pick well-populated and well-lit areas. He also said people should tell someone else where they are going, at what time and for what reason.
Amsterdam has allowed residents to use its police lobby at all times and parking lot after court closes around 4 p.m. for exchanges.
“People use it often,” said Sgt. Joseph Spencer. “We have not had any issues reported at our station by those who have used it.”
He said around five years ago they opened the Police Department to people needing to do exchanges after seeing a national story about another department.
“It was an idea from the Police Benevolent Association to offer another sort of community service to residents,” Spencer said.
In January 2020 the department arrested a 17-year-old who stole a cellphone from a seller, police said.
Spencer said the setup is a great way to deter people from trying to steal from you.
“If they are setting you up they will not agree to meet at the police station lobby, so when you mention that and they decline then you know you’re dealing with someone untrustworthy,” he said.
Rotterdam Deputy Police Chief Michael Brown said people use the department’s parking lot for child custody exchanges but anyone can use it for internet exchanges too. He said he will put that out on the Police Department’s website so more people know.