CONCORD, CA (Dec. 14, 2022) — The Noor Islamic and Cultural Community Center (NICCC) celebrated the men and women of the Police Department at the annual Police Appreciation Day on Nov. 16.
The hosts gave every police officer a long-stemmed red rose upon arrival and warmly thanked them individually. In a noontime ceremony at the spacious center on Treat Boulevard, Chief Mark Bustillos, Lt. Mark Robison, Lt. Robert Garcia, Officer Aaron Khamosh and Capt. James Nakayama received engraved plaques in gratitude for providing the center’s mostly Afghan community with security and peace of mind.
Afterward, the group treated several dozen officers and other invited guests to a sumptuous feast of Afghan food. They prepared takeout boxes in advance to be delivered to officers on duty or those unable to attend.
“We couldn’t provide for the religious, educational and social needs of Contra Costa’s growing Muslim community without the cooperation and protection of the Concord Police Department,” NICCC president Dr. Siddique Popal told the Pioneer. “None of our classes, programs or refugee assistance would be possible without their service. They have kept us safe, and we are grateful.”
Founded in 1990, NICCC is a non-profit, non-political community center. It has a mandate to help Afghan and other Muslim immigrants to maintain their religious beliefs, native languages and cultural traditions. The center offers classes and lecture series for local youth and adults. Since the influx of refugees that followed the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2020-’21, the group has helped secure essential services and household items for newly arrived immigrants to begin their new lives in the Bay Area.
Bustillos praised the center’s outreach programs and cited the long-standing cooperation between CPD and the local Muslim community. “We meet regularly and stay in frequent touch. I hope the model of communication and teamwork we’ve developed can be of use to other communities,” he said. “The fact that several of our Concord PD officers are members of NICCC makes the relationship even stronger.”
Popal echoed the chief’ observation: “Working together works.”
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Pamela Michael is a writer and communications specialist who has lived in Curry Canyon for twenty years.