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Martinsville 'Safe Exchange Zone' adds a new area of protection

Pictured left to right:  Capt. Fincher, Lt. Turner, Chief Dunn, Sheriff Draper, Capt. Spence & Major Cassidy
Pictured left to right: Capt. Fincher, Lt. Turner, Chief Dunn, Sheriff Draper, Capt. Spence & Major Cassidy (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)


MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) - The city of Martinsville has established a "Safe Exchange Zone", monitored by video surveillance, that can be used to conduct child custody exchanges or even personal sales transactions.

The site, established by the Martinsville Sheriff's Office and the Martinsville Police Department, is located in the parking lot behind the Martinsville municipal building and can be used by anyone on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Sheriff Steve Draper.

"Many times during weekends" divorced or separated couples exchange custody of their children. With these safe exchange zone parking spaces, the public can be assured that any transaction is being recorded and monitored," said Draper. "It's more of a public place, and you don't have to worry about someone coming to your home, or meeting behind a gas station and (facing) the possibility of getting robbed."

The two parking spaces are located in front of the sheriff's office in the rear of the municipal building. They are marked by a sign and with the letters "SEZ" painted on the asphalt.

The area is under 24-hour video surveillance. In addition to the marked parking spaces, the lobby of the sheriff's office will be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with the exception of holidays. Parties can meet inside the lobby to complete a transaction and sheriff's office personnel will be available if needed.

Henry County Sheriff's Office is also in the process of assigning parking spaces for "SEZ" in front of the office on Kings Mountain Road.