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Facebook coughs up $200,000 for a local cop

While you’re busy worrying about identity theft and privacy settings, Facebook has security concerns of its own. The San Jose Mercury News reports that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media outfit is footing the bill — to the tune of $200,000 per year — for a “full-time sworn police officer” to operate close to the site of the company’s new Silicon Valley campus.

San Jose officials gave their unanimous support to the idea of Facebook contributing some of its wealth to help fund a local patrolman. Menlo Park police Chief Robert Jonsen said the deal was a “benchmark in private-public partnerships” and something to be welcomed. “In my 28 years in law enforcement, I have yet to work with a stronger community partner than Facebook,” he explained to the City Council. “They only asked, ‘What can we do to make it safer?'”

Under the agreement, Facebook will pay for the police officer for a period of three years, with an option to extend this for another two years if necessary. $200,000 per year was the agreed rate, with $108,000 going directly to the officer’s salary, though there is room for this figure to be altered if pension rates or other issues change over time.

This is the first time in the U.S. that a private company has ever funded a police officer. Once hired, the cop will have a particular focus on reducing truancy in the area, spend time working in local schools, and clamp down on drug dealing operations. Despite the positive spin being put on the move by the San Jose authorities, some commenters are concerned about the precedent it sets for a private security force with no public accountability.

The powers-that-be were keen to stress that Facebook will have no say in who is hired for the position or the duties that the officer will carry out — as far as the local council is concerned, this is simply private money funding a public need. Nevertheless, the police officer will be operating right next door to Facebook’s new home, which is being constructed directly opposite its old campus in Menlo Park. Facebook itself has released no official comment.

[Image courtesy of bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock]

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