Sept. 21, 2021
W.Va. Capitol campus now hosts Safe Exchange Zone
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia is extending the safety of its Capitol Complex to the general public, by establishing a designated location for child custody exchanges, in-person e-commerce transactions, and the like.
The Capitol Police have set up a Safe Zone at the bus turnaround between the Culture Center and the West Virginia Veterans Memorial. The turnaround, which is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., is accessible via the campus entrance at the intersection of Greenbrier Street and Washington Street East.
As with the rest of the 18-acre complex, the area is well-lighted and monitored by the Capitol Police, including by video.
"We can also provide some security, if they just feel more comfortable with an officer being out there with them, we can do that if they'll just call us and let us know," said Capitol Police Director Kevin Foreman.
Capitol Police established the Safe Zone in coordination with Gov. Jim Justice's office and following discussions with Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt and state Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy, whose department includes Capitol Police.
"Just the location itself is a deterrent, I believe," Foreman said, "It's handy. It's right off the interstate, it's easy to get in and out of."
The Division of Highways provided the sign, and Capitol Police painted the zone's curbside a distinctive green to highlight the designated area. Anyone who wishes to have an officer on hand while using the Safe Zone can call (304) 558-9911.
"Custody exchanges can be highly dangerous, potentially lethal and psychologically traumatizing, when domestic violence offenders choose to use their children and custody exchanges as tactics of abuse and intimidation" said Tonia Thomas, Team Coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "WVCADV thanks the WV Capitol Police for recognizing these potential harms to children and families through their creation of a “Safe Zone” exchange site on the Capitol Complex. Safe, public spaces for exchange can be another tool to reduce trauma and potential abuse."
# # #
This version has been updated with the statement from WVCADV Team Coordinator Tonia Thomas.