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Springfield City Councilor seeks options for safe pickup sites for online purchases

Springfield Police Department Headquarters on Pearl Street
Paul Tuthill
The Springfield Police Department headquarters at 130 Pearl Street is a designated meetup location for internet exchanges. But, Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood concedes it is not convenient for people who live in outlying neighborhoods such as Sixteen Acres and Indian Orchard.

Police encourage people to meet up in the lobby of SPD headquarters

A City Councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts is advocating for more places in the city where people can safely meet to conclude transactions initiated online.

Springfield City Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce, the chair of the Public Safety Committee, is looking to have the city designate spots that are well-lit, open 24-hours, with surveillance cameras where people can safely go to exchange that used lawnmower, or bicycle they put up for sale on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a similar online site.

The Springfield Police Department encourages people to make their internet-initiated exchanges in the lobby of police headquarters at 130 Pearl Street. But, Click-Bruce said not everyone is comfortable meeting up at a police station.

“So can we explore options for different spots in the community that are deemed safe?” Click-Bruce asked. “We’re just trying to explore options.”

A few years ago, the Springfield Police Department designated the police headquarters lobby as a “Community Meetup Spot” for internet purchase exchanges. This was done after a couple of people carrying cash went to meetups in deserted parking lots and were robbed.

But Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood conceded the Pearl Street lobby is not a terribly convenient location for most city residents.

“We are not in a convenient location,” she said. “I’m not in the center of city and it is tough to get down here in traffic.”

Speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Pat Sullivan, the city’s director of parks and facilities offered to look for other public spaces that might fit the bill.

Click-Bruce also called for educational efforts directed at youth and senior citizens about the potential perils of online commerce.

“I’m a father of five, so I want to make sure we are educating our young people and our seniors who we know are the population most preyed upon,” Click-Bruce said.

Also attending the committee meeting Wednesday was a representative from the Springfield Public Schools, an organizer with the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, and Milly Johnson, who heads the city’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

In the runup to the meeting, the Springfield Police Dept issued a press release containing social media transaction safety tips and the link to the SafeTradeSpots.com website that lists other police departments that host community meetup locations.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.