Reminder Publications | Plans in progress to expand secure internet buy markets in Springfield

| Matt Conway
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Lavar Click-Bruce, Ward 5 Councilman and Chair of the Public Safety Committee, discusses the safety of online shopping exchanges.
Photo credit: Focus Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Police Department and Public Safety Committee Chairman and Ward 5 Councilman Lavar Click-Bruce is highlighting a safe way to exchange internet purchases. Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and Click-Bruce discussed the police department’s current actions and a possible expansion of safe Internet shopping sites during a Public Safety Committee meeting on February 15.

Click-Bruce voiced his initial concerns in a Feb. 10 press release. He noted that an increasing reliance on internet sales and exchanges has led to a “new wave of crime targeting and exploiting our seniors and young people”.

Springfield Police Department leadership discussed their current security plan for Internet exchanges in a Feb. 10 press release. The department’s headquarters at 130 Pearl St. has served as the designated community gathering place since 2018. Residents can interact in the HQ lobby or outside, with both areas under constant video surveillance.

The head office is open 24/7 for internet exchange. There is no police oversight of transactions; Officials do not monitor the exchange, confirm identities, or screen the items to ensure they are authentic or were not stolen, the police agency said.

Clapprood explained that the designated space encourages safe exchange of internet sales for the public. She said the development of the designated common room was in response to robberies that took place across the city during the online exchange.

“Internet buying exchanges reduce the likelihood of theft or crime and give an additional sense of security. If the exchange is a scam or for nefarious reasons, it would be quite brazen for the other person involved to turn up to the police department. If the other person doesn’t show up or asks for another meeting, that’s a red flag,” Clapprood said.

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno also expressed support for the Police Department’s security plan for online shopping sites.

“When conducting online shopping exchanges with parties you may not know, it is important and safe to conduct these types of legal transactions in a public environment and in a safe space. Conducting this online shopping exchange is welcomed at our Springfield Police Headquarters on Pearl Street, and we welcome and encourage every Springfield resident to use this location for their safety,” Sarno said.

Click-Bruce, Clapprood and other city officials discussed the potential of providing additional designated meeting places for the community. Clapprood noted that police headquarters may not be open to all Springfield residents.

“I know that 130 Pearl St. isn’t convenient for a lot of people,” Clapprood said.
Clapprood saw the police department meeting room as “a model to copy” for other areas across the city. She suggested that a 24-hour location, like a Pride gas station, could serve as another meeting place.

“I’m thinking of a Pride station or a 24-hour station [area] where we can maybe install another camera and just advertise it,” said Clapprood.

Patrick Sullivan, Springfield’s Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, also offered a public parking space to be used to create another community gathering place.

Another way to ensure safety is through consumer education. Click-Bruce emphasized the importance of educating young people and seniors about the potential dangers of online buying and trading. Springfield Public Schools senior director of operations Rick Garib said schools were working to make instructional materials available to students.

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The director of Sarno’s Office of Consumer Information, Milagros Johnson, said it was important to keep consumers informed.

“Our model is that education is our best prevention and consumer safety is our key… We definitely want to include safety in all of this,” Johnson said.

Going forward, Click-Bruce hopes the collaboration between city guides will continue to empathize and expand safe measures for online shopping exchanges.

“I’m here to work together to see how we can expand this program to ensure our citizens are aware and feel safe. We all know online buying is here and there will be more to come,” said Click-Bruce.