JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Following the kidnapping and murder of realtor Beverly Carter, safety protocols have been enhanced at real estate offices across the state.
"This has been such a tragedy and we wanna make sure this never happens again," Crye-Leike Executive Broker Rick McKenzie told Region 8 News.
Carter's alleged murderer is currently behind bars but that hasn't stopped local offices from setting up new guidelines to keep their agents safe.
Meeting a stranger in an empty home is a scary thought for most but it's a daily reality for realtors.
"We do here in rural arkansas, we're pretty comfortable, we think everybody's good," McKenzie said.
But Carter's death in September was a terrifying reminder of what can happen and it's prompted increased safety measures for realtors across the state.
"Now, we prefer to meet the client at the office first," McKenzie said.
McKenzie said some of the safety increases might seem extreme but they're in place for a good reason.
"Someone that's got ill-intent is less likely to meet you at the office and let other people see them," he explained.
Safety measures have always been in place for before and after meeting a client.
"Tell someone where you're going, who you're going to meet. If possible, even their number so we're able to know as much as possible," McKenzie said. "Text someone when you get there so they know you're comfortable."
Now stronger precautionary measures should keep agents safe while on the job, especially if they feel unsafe.
"Have an excuse ready, a reason to leave, if you don't feel comfortable when you get there," he said.
Beverly Carter worked for Crye-Leike Realty in Central Arkansas.
McKenzie said since her death, the company has created the "Beverly Carter Safety Class" that all agents will be required to take before graduating from Crye-Leike college.
The course will cover topics like parking with an escape route and checking out vacant property before you enter a home.
"So we're going to be reviewing and every step we can to try to prevent this from ever happening again," McKenzie said.
McKenzie said other real estate companies in town have implemented stricter safety policies as well but he said agents from competing companies have always let each other know if a suspicious person seemed to be targeting realtors.