Just down the road from Facebook's corporate headquarters, in the neighborhood of Belle Haven, now stands a police station, that has been reopened thanks to a large amount of funding from the social network giant. $600,000 will be given to the police station over the next two years and will include payment for rent, renovation and one officer's salary.
While the city of Menlo Park is actually a very high-class area, with houses selling at an average of $1.5 million, it is said that Belle Haven has a high crime rate, some homes are run down and all of Menlo Park's eight shootings took place in this neighborhood. Test scores also aren't too great in the school district, with scores falling in the bottom 12 percent of all California schools in the past 4 years. So I guess having a police station there isn't a bad idea, in that first world problem, "I asked for two limes and you gave me one" kind of way.
At any rate, Facebook has created what Belle Haven is calling the "Neighborhood Service Center" sits on the end of a strip mall and has been converted from a former store front. Facebook was also in charge of all of the interior design of the project, per the police force's request. The Center will also have three officers on duty Monday through Friday from 8am through 6pm.
It really takes seeing this place to realize that it is nothing like your average police department. Free Wi-Fi, an ATM, iPads, couches and even a credit union fill in the space, along with live surveillance cameras from around the entire city, displayed on a large wall of monitors.
It's also interesting to note that the space costs $3,600 per month for rent, which was more than what they were paying for before, and that substation closes in January. The mayor of Menlo Park, Ray Mueller, said that his taxpayers were already paying enough and that Facebook's generous offer would help fix the crime rate in the area.
I think there is precedent for taking money from private companies putting it to public good... We had violent crime in this area. We had drive-bys. The number one priority is that when kids go to school that they have the same opportunity as kids on the other side of the freeway. Facebook came forward to us, we didn't ask them. We're going to save money in the long-term.
Mueller did take time to mention that Facebook employees wouldn't get any special treatment after this, saying that, "If a Facebook employee gets caught doing something, there will be extra attention to make sure they don't get an extra benefit."
What do you make of all of this? I mean the place definitely looks cool and bridging a gap between police and their community is certainly needed as of late, but is this type of establishment appropriate for the area? Sound off in the comments section because I'm dying to know what everyone else out there thinks. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this myself.