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TAP recommends supervised custody exchange locations, not exchange zones

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 2:47 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Many police department parking lots have designated “safe exchange zones,” but representatives with Total Action for Progress (TAP) say they should not be used as custody exchanges.

A release detailed the concerns from TAP Sabrina’s Place and the Supervised Visitation Network (SVN) about this practice, stating the original intent of Safe Exchange Zones was to provide a safe place to conduct transactions from e-commerce websites like Craigslist, but increasingly they are being used as custody exchange locations as well.

The release reads in part, “Unmanned exchange zones with security cameras only help law enforcement capture perpetrators after tragedies have occurred and do nothing to prevent children from witnessing conflicts that commonly occur during exchanges.”

TAP Sabrina’s Place is a member of the SVN, a membership organization of professionals who provide supervised visitation and access services to families.

Unfortunately, there have been violent, and even fatal, incidents that have occurred during custody exchanges at police stations:

On January 6 of this year, a custody exchange in the North Versailles, Pennsylvania police parking lot ended in gunfire, leaving a 6-year-old girl and an adult wounded.

Also this month, a custody exchange shooting at a police station in Chesterfield, Virginia resulted in a man’s death.

In January of 2021, another man was stabbed in front of the Richmond Police Department in California during a custody exchange.

In Hamilton, Alabama Christmas Eve in 2018 ended in tragedy when two children witnessed the fatal shooting of their father. This occurred in the parking lot of the local police department.

Total Action for Progress

TAP Sabrina’s Place and other members of the SVN provide safe, supervised exchanges of children in custody cases, minimizing the chances of violence by:

  • keeping parties separate at all times;
  • enforcing staggered arrival times to prevent stalking and other altercations;
  • conducting thorough intakes of all parties to understand the issues present with each family; and
  • other measures that have proven to be effective.

Virginia does not have any statutes or legislation governing how supervised visitation or exchange services are provided and there is no certification for SVN providers. TAP Sabrina’s Place voluntarily follows the SVN-published minimum standards that address all aspects of the provision of services, including safety and security for all participants. These standards are posted at svnworldwide.org.

For more information about TAP Sabrina’s Place, call 540-777-3799 or visit tapintohope.org/program/sabrinas-place.

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