Constable Mustafa Safari has become a celebrity on Persian satellite television. The constable co-hosts a Farsi question-and-answer show for the Persian community in the GTA, informing newcomers about the law and role of police.
The Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy rapid response officer works out of 32 Division, home to the largest Persian population in Toronto. He noticed that there were certain things the community was doing but did not know it was against the law.
“So I realized we needed to bring this information to them,” Safari said, of the aim of the show called Police and Community or Police Va Jamehe airing on TenTV.
Its purpose it is to teach people about crime prevention, basic police knowledge and build a better relationship with the community, says Safari, who is Persian himself.
Every second Monday, the officer makes his way to a studio to Richmond Hill where he goes live on television, speaking on thematic issues from domestic violence to traffic by-laws. The phones are then opened up for callers who may have questions.
“People call and ask questions. They bring up their concerns with me,” says Safari, adding it is especially good for those people who cannot speak English since he is communicating with them in Farsi.
Farsi speakers in the GTA are not only from Iran but also Afghanistan, Tajikistan and parts of Iraq. “It is a significant population in Toronto,” says Safari.
The show, broadcast every second Monday is accessible by subscribers to TenTV but can also be viewed online. The next live broadcast is Monday, March 16 at 8 p.m.
Over the ten episodes he has done, with another 10 repeat shows, the director of the show has told Safari that he has gained a following.
“It is a good program. I normally don’t watch satellite but I follow his program,” says viewer Soraya Vaisi. “It is very helpful for newcomers… I also noticed that, when I watch the show, a lot of older or middle-aged people call in because they are more comfortable speaking in their own language.
“He is very friendly, he jokes in between and you feel comfortable talking to him,” says Soraya, who once called regarding a traffic ticket she had received.
For Arash Heirani, who does not have the Persian TV satellite installed, he still watches it online.
“I think it is good for everybody, because of cultural differences we can now understand the difference between the laws back home and here.”
Heirani adds that, even for someone like himself, who has been in Canada for 13 years, he still learns about the law from the show.
In particular, Heirani feels that the show allows the Persian community to trust the police. “The police are here to help and serve.”
Safari understands Heirani’s view, which is one of the reasons he started the show.
“These people come from a place where there is no trust between police and people. When they are here, in the back of their mind they see us with a uniform and carrying the name of police… so we have to close that gap (of mistrust) and create a relationship with them.”