Facebook Ponies Up $600K to Pay for City Cop

'Unprecedented' $200K-a-year public-private deal could be a model
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2014 8:20 AM CST
Facebook Ponies Up $600K to Pay for City Cop
In this Thursday, March 20, 2013 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Facebook is poised for a private-company first: The social network plans to pay $200,000 a year for three years to fund the employment of a local cop. The "community safety police officer" will receive $108,000 per year to protect Menlo Park, Calif., a city of 30,000, NBC Bay Area reports. Amid word the city needed the funds, Facebook representatives made the offer late last year; yesterday, the city council unanimously approved the idea. The new hire will focus on establishing school and business security measures, with special attention to fighting truancy and collecting gang intel, and will work out of a substation about a quarter-mile from Facebook's new West Campus, in a poorer area of town, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Reaction to the plan has been mixed: Mayor Ray Mueller calls Facebook's offer "a gift focused on youth." But others aren't so sure. "This comes awfully close to naming rights. So what will things be called now, 'Google City Hall?'" asks a government accountability advocate. A former California mayor says the company must make it clear that it won't receive special treatment. There's "potential for the conflict of interest, if Facebook asks for an expansion or a waiver of a parking ticket," she notes. Either way, a police expert calls the public-private move "unprecedented ... but this may be the model of the future." (More Facebook stories.)

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