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Zwicker & Benson Bill Designating Safe Areas for Residents to Meet to Complete Online Marketplace Transactions Passes Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Daniel Benson allowing police departments to establish safe areas for residents to meet with one another to complete a transaction for items listed via online marketplaces was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Monday.

The bill (A-1172) allows municipal and county police departments to establish designated safe areas that members of the public would be permitted to use to conduct sales transactions for items listed on classified websites such as Craigslist. Departments would be allowed to install a video camera to record the area.

“Searching for the best deal on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace is widely popular today,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Unfortunately, it is not always safe for residents to meet up with strangers in order to buy or sell items to one another. Establishing well-lit and surveilled areas outside police stations where these transactions can take place would provide peace of mind and protection for both participants.”

The measure specifies that police departments would not be responsible for regulating the transactions and would not be civilly liable for crimes committed by participants during the transaction.

“While online marketplace users are already encouraged to meet in public places, this bill makes it even easier for residents to meet up in a secure location to conduct their transactions,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By allowing police departments to establish these areas, we will reduce the potential for criminal activity and help residents make safer decisions when choosing where to pick up or sell their goods.”

Should the legislation be signed into law, police departments that establish these designated safe areas would be permitted to conduct a public awareness campaign to notify residents of the site.

The legislation now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.