Thirty-four year-old Mary Ferguson is just your average police officer, patrolling the city of Menlo Park, California. But what separates her from her peers is that her salary comes from an unusual place: Facebook.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the social media giant pays Ferguson’s annual salary of $US194,000.
Apparently company-funded police officers isn’t necessarily a new thing. In the 90s, tech companies helped pay police salaries for computer-crime departments. But this definitely isn’t all that common.
The deal benefits Facebook since part of Ferguson’s job is to help large businesses plan for emergencies like break-ins or natural disasters, but Ferguson is also in charge of working with juvenile offenders and keeping kids in school.
“We just identified a need in the community,” Genevieve Grdina, a company spokeswoman, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s not the ‘Facebook officer’; it’s the officer for the whole community.”
Facebook says it doesn’t expect any special treatment, but not everyone is thrilled with the situation.
Police ethicists are worried about a conflict of interest. For instance, a Facebook-sponsored cop may have a tough time making decisions that are related to the company itself.
“That raises some potential conflicts that, if I was the chief, I am not sure I’d want to wrestle with,” Geoffrey Alpert, a criminal-justice professor at University of South Carolina, told the Wall Street Journal. “What do you tell your officers about how to treat people who work at Facebook?”
Some residents are also upset because they believe that Facebook is just trying to clean up Belle Haven, the lower-income neighbourhood of Menlo Park, where the social media company is currently expanding.
Matt Henry, a Bell Haven resident, thinks that Facebook is just worried about the crime stats in the area and want some extra protection so that they can expand the headquarters.
And whether or not any of these issues are of real concern, the “Facebook Cop” will most likely not be a welcome move for the Bay Area residents who are up in arms about the tech world taking over their cities.
Watch the Wall Street Journal’s video here:
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