Black Business Month offers tools for peace officers

SAN FRANCISCO — With record-high unemployment this summer, the sixth annual National Black Business Month offers a proactive way for peace officers to build the community alliances necessary for crime prevention and neighborhood recovery.
Founder John William Templeton, executive editor of blackmoney.com, notes that a well-respected neighborhood business can stop delinquency and crime by providing jobs and a connection with the outside world. He encourages officers and departments to visibly apply the principle of National Black Business Month during August 2009 by visiting at least one-black owned business each day.
It enhances the retailers by providing an additional sense of security, increasing their ability to expand the tax base, and gives officers a vital listening post to get a sense of the community. Officer-led athletic and youth programs can also be more effective by partnering with these entrepreneurs to lessen the idea that “outsiders” are intruding in the neighborhood.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that black unemployment topped 15 percent nationally, with the figures rising much faster for black men, a recipe what was once known as “a long hot summer.” Templeton, who authors the annual State of Black Business report, notes that the recovery from that unemployment rate will most likely be led by the indigenous neighborhood businesses and not the contracting major corporations. His statistics note that the unemployment disparity tracks the gap in self-employment.
“The tendency is for officers to spend so much time in suppression, that they don’t cultivate the people who really make communities work,” said Templeton, who recently created an exhibition honoring black technology entrepreneurs for the City of Palo Alto that helped defuse a police community relations flareup.
“Peace officers have the same need for cultural competence that teachers and social workers have, because they’re often having to carry out those functions as well.”
The author participated several years ago in a community effort to stop gang violence in his hometown of San Francisco by holding a meeting of gang “shot-callers” on a college campus where they were given an option of attending higher education or facing stiffer enforcement. “Because we knew who in the community could get their ear, we were able to convince them voluntarily to end a trend of senseless violence,” he added. National Black Business Month is an opportunity to cultivate those kinds of relationships. The list of suggested activities can be found at http://www.blackbusinessmonth.com.

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