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Facebook To Pay City $200K-a-Year For a Neighborhood Cop 235

theodp writes "Valleywag reports that Facebook just bought itself a police officer and questions what kind of mechanism will be in place to make sure the officer — whose position Facebook has agreed to fund to the tune of $200K-a-year for 3 years — doesn't provide preferential protection for the social network giant and its employees. It's probably a fair question, considering that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the City of New Orleans enter into a federal consent decree designed to address the 'divided loyalties' of the city's moonlighting police officers. But for now, everything's hunky-dory in Menlo Park, where Police Chief Robert Jonsen called the deal a 'benchmark in private-public partnerships.' No doubt it is, as was last week's Google-City of San Francisco deal to fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids. But is giving earmarked funding to facilitate self-serving city expenditures a good or bad development?"
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Facebook To Pay City $200K-a-Year For a Neighborhood Cop

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  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:29PM (#46431899) Homepage Journal

    I work down the street from their menlo park/willow road campus. Right now Facebook is building an apartment complex across the street from HQ. They've promised to only rent 10% of the apartments to their employees with the other 90% being offered to the general public at market rate.

    Despite the nice sounding name, Menlo Park's east side is akin to East Palo Alto. Slum neighborhoods, crime, ghetto. With the influx of google/facebook employees however the neighborhood is slowly gentrifying.

    I think facebook wants to turn the neighborhood into something more appealing for their employees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @07:32PM (#46431915)

    Yeah, but it's about moving the Overton window. As the democratic state becomes weaker, private businesses take over a governing role. Before you had to bribe - now you just pay directly for cops.

  • by machineghost ( 622031 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:06PM (#46432121)

    Private entities pay for cops all the time, this isn't as radical as it seems. For instance, when I used to be involved in student government we knew that part of the cost of having a big event was having to pay for the mandatory number of cops who had to be there. The city knew that college students in large groups were trouble, and they didn't want to have to foot the bill, so they passed an ordance that required us to foot the bill for any event with X number of people expected (I forget what X was).

    I'm pretty sure the same thing happens with some concerts, sporting events, etc.: the municipalities don't want to pay, so they make the entity responsible pay for it. Then again, lots of stadium owners have cozy deals with the city, which probably avoid this sort of thing.

    In any case, the only unusual thing about this that I can see is that's a full-time gig.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:10PM (#46432153)

    "If the service isn't good, fix it for everybody"

    They did.

    They earmarked the funds for a cop, instead of just giving the city money to spend on whatever stupid, politically motivated bullshit worth maybe $25,000 some city councilman's brother in law could get away with selling the city for that same $200,000.

    I rather approve of earmarks like this.

    If I could earmark donated funds for specific uses, like solar powered LED street lights that pretty much never need service for 20+ years, I'd probably buy several for my neighborhood, as they are ~$500 each, and labor to put them up couldn't be more than ~$200 each (and if it was, I'd hire the private contractors to do the work instead of city employees). I'd happily pay $3,500 out of pocket for 5 lights to get safer streets in my immediate neighborhood.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:16PM (#46432195) Journal

    > . . . so where do all the slum, crime and ghetto folks go when the place gets gentrified . . .

    I dunno, camp out in Ravesnwood?

    But seriously, what's the alternative? Leave the area a rat hole because certain kinds of people need to live in rat holes?

    I spent a year at Tan House back in the day, and can say that the tales of massive prostitution and drug use were exaggerated. They did have a serious cockroach problem, though. I remember a note tacked up by the mailboxes, in the vein of "You people need to stop living like pigs!" Fun times.

  • Re:Pretty ridiculous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalvengeance ( 722523 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:29PM (#46432265)

    Not at all. Rather, an officer has a much easier time justifying a lawful detainment than a private citizen does and is on much more solid legal ground if he or she has to use force in the furtherance of a legal goal. Officers also typically have more training and experiencing both in preventing the need for such force and using it appropriately when necessary. (There are, of course, examples to the contrary.)

    If an officer truly just unlawfully detains you, then the question becomes whether or not that unlawful detainment violated a clearly established constitutional right. If so, qualified immunity generally doesn't apply and someone is getting out their checkbook. In fact, as an agent of the state, an officer is at greater peril if they violate your rights as they can be both civilly and criminally liable at both the state and federal level and they can also receive departmental discipline. What that means is that a single action can result in repercussions for the officer in five different venues.

    Again, I am not a lawyer and I am skipping over a lot of important details that aren't really relevant to a hypothetical like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:56PM (#46432377)

    Ah, yes, the old "fair share" argument. Tell you what: feel free not to take the deductions and exemptions you are entitled to take on your taxes. What? You don't feel like volunteering to pay more than you owe? Wow, neither does Facebook!

    If you think FB isn't paying enough taxes then push for a simplified tax code without deductions. You people act like individuals/companies are doing something wrong by not volunteering to pay more taxes than they are required to do. If you think they are actually defrauding the government rather than abiding by the laws, then by all means, attempt to have them audited and prosecuted.

    Don't blame people for being smart, though. FFS, it's just *ironic* to do that on a "nerd" site.

    BTW, I see you are a member of the "let's have no police officer in the area at all" camp. Remember, there's no third option where you magically extract more money from the public and inject it into the government's budget. This city needs FB far more than FB needs the city. Enjoy your ivory tower. Hope you don't get mugged without any police protection there.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Friday March 07, 2014 @09:05PM (#46432425) Homepage

    And yet, I don't have a problem with that. In fact, there's many places in "safe canada" where I'd love to have the right to carry a gun for my own personal protection. Mainly in Toronto/burbs/Ottawa/burbs and especially the areas around Vancouver. Oh and I absolutely can't forget Saskatoon, which is not quite at Detroit levels of compete shitiness. But for the most part is where Detroit was in 1997.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:36PM (#46432793)

    The problem is that by paying for the cop, they tell the city "there'd better be a cop right here".

    I expect the conversation went more like this:

    FB: "We are building new housing in a ghetto area and we plan to have 10% of it go to our employees, and 90% of it to be rented at below market rates do that people can have better housing; all of this will be worthless, however, if no one wants to live there due to the high crime rate in the area. We'd like to see periodic patrols by a police officer in the area"

    MP: "Sorry, we don't have enough officers to guarantee periodic patrols in the area that you're requesting"

    FB: "Have another officer, on us, then, so that you can periodically patrol the area"

    MP: "Thanks!"

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?