Châteauguay police have a new way to keep a watchful eye over residents.
Police have established a Neutral Meeting Zone, a safe spot where people can meet face-to-face to finalize their online transactions.
Mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier explained that such a space is needed in the town.
“If you’re either buying something on Kijiji or Marketplace,” the mayor said, “sometimes you may have to interact with people you don’t know, and you have to give them money.”
It’s set up in a marked area in the visitors’ parking lot at the police station, located on Maple Boulevard. Any resident in the jursidiction of Châteauguay police, including Beauharnois, Saint Isadore, Léry or Mercier, will be able to use it, the mayor said.
Authorities point out the space isn’t just for those selling personal items. For example, separated parents who are handing kids over to each other can also use it.
“Everybody will be able to conduct their transaction, with people that are either unknown, or people that they know but are a little bit afraid of,” Routhier told Global News.
The space is monitored via surveillance camera by police officers inside the station. Officers said the camera is high-definition and of sufficient quality to show a vehicle’s licence plate, the face of the people involved, and can even zoom in the show the item being sold.
There have been concerns among authorities about these kinds of transactions, especially since this summer, when Nicolas Poulin, a former Quebec major junior hockey league player, had his throat slashed.
He had met someone over the sale of a cell phone.
Châteauguay police point out that there are precautions people can take.
“It’s important they don’t give some personal information,” said a police spokesperson, Const. Jenny Lavigne.
This is the fourth buy and sale zone that’s been set up in the province, after Bromont, Sherbrooke and Terrebonne.
Montreal police say they have plans to set up similar areas at at least two of their stations in the coming weeks.