New Jersey municipalities have been doing it for years, but a proposed law aims to ensure every police department in the Garden State is aware of the option.

Legislation advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee requires the Attorney General to notify chief law enforcement officers that they are permitted to designate so-called safe exchange zones, where internet strangers can meet to conduct online sales made on sites like Facebook and Craigslist.

"Unfortunately, it is not always safe for residents to meet up with strangers in order to buy or sell items to one another," said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex, a sponsor of the measure. "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."

A growing number of agencies have jumped on board with the trend over the past few years. Typically, the designated meet-up spots are located at or near police headquarters, so there's a greater sense of security.

"We've established two parking stalls in our municipal lots," said East Brunswick Police Chief Frank LoSacco. "We also have 24/7 surveillance, which is recorded."

LoSacco noted that officers do not get actively involved in the transactions or witness them, and there's a police department policy that says so.

It also states that the department can't be held responsible should something go awry during a transaction. The proposed state law would establish this protection statewide.

Brick, Robbinsville, South Brunswick, Toms River, Winslow and Wyckoff are among the long list of other municipalities that have a designated safe area for exchanges.

In addition to these zones, or in place of them, departments across the state have permitted transactions to occur inside the police station lobby.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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