Facebook cops are a horrible idea

Proof our system of government is broken: When private corporations start bankrolling public security

Topics: Facebook, Facebook cop, Menlo Park, privatization, public security, ,

Facebook cops are a horrible ideaMark Zuckerberg (Credit: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters/Anthony Bolante/Photo collage by Salon)

All of a sudden, Silicon Valley corporations are falling over themselves to be good civic citizens. Last week Google donated $6.5 million to pay for free Muni passes for Bay Area youth and announced a $5 million grant program for San Francisco nonprofits. The latest act of beneficience? Facebook, reports NBC News, is paying for a full-time beat cop for the city of Menlo Park.

“This is a generous gift,” Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller told NBC Bay Area before the meeting. “And it’s a way to keep the community safe.” He noted that the contract states the officer will spend most of his or her time near the schools, and not patrolling the campus of Facebook.

I am all for corporations being good citizens of their communities, but private bankrolling of public cops sets a horrible precedent. For starters, it presents obvious conflict-of-interest challenges. How will police departments treat Facebook employees who might be caught in criminal behavior, when their own budget is partially paid for by Facebook? Everyone involved is swearing up and down that nothing of the sort will ever happen, but if this model spreads, there are bound to be abuses.

You Might Also Like

But much worse is what this news item reveals about the general bankruptcy of our system of government. Menlo Park is a rich town in one of the wealthiest regions of the United States. The median household income is $103,000, which is almost twice California’s median. The median home price is $925,000, more than double California as a whole. If a community like this can’t afford to pay for an adequate police force, then just imagine what’s happening in poorer communities that lack generous tech companies?

The mere fact that Menlo Park and Facebook think private sponsorship of a cop is a good idea betrays a social order in which the notion that we all pay taxes to provide public services to everyone has completely broken down. Silicon Valley corporations aren’t paying their fair share and neither are the wealthiest Americans.

Wake me up when Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin and Tim Cook start organizing a campaign to repeal California’s Proposition 13, and promote a system of progressive taxation that benefits all citizens of California, and not those lucky enough to live near the headquarters of Facebook. Then we can start congratulating people, and companies, for true civic participation.

Andrew Leonard
Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...