Sandeep Singh has become the first Sikh to serve with Sikh articles of faith, including turban and beard, in Harris County. Via Sikhnet
Sandeep recently took amrit and now will serve with his article of faith in the Harris County Sherrif’s Department
(HOUSTON, TX) – Sheriff Adrian Garcia and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office will soon be celebrating one of their own’s ability to wear a turban and beard as part of his official HCSO uniform thanks to a religious accommodation policy recently implemented by Sheriff Garcia.
Patrol Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, a Sikh American who joined the Sheriff’s Office six years ago, will, for the first time, be allowed to wear a dastaar and beard when in full uniform – both are articles of faith of the Sikh religion. Signifying their commitment to their faith, Sikhs do not cut their hair, and Sikh men and women cover their head with turbans. These articles of faith represent a Sikh’s commitment to equality, service, and justice.
“We’ll soon be turning a new chapter in the history of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. One of our very own HCSO family members will be adding a new dimension to his uniform. He’ll be allowed to wear his turban,” announced
Sheriff Adrian Garcia. “By making these religious accommodations we are joining the US military1 and other law enforcement agencies2, 3 across the country with observant Sikh Americans among their ranks. Harris County is no different. We are one of the most culturally rich and diverse communities in America,” said Sheriff Garcia.
Cross-cultural inclusion and understanding is imperative for law enforcement agencies in any community. In order to best serve the more than 1.5 million residents in the unincorporated area of Harris County, HCSO deputies need to not only understand, respect, and communicate with all segments of the population, but represent it as well.
“We commend Sheriff Adrian Garcia and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for their leadership, and in recognizing that Sikh Americans and residents of Harris County should have the opportunity to serve their community, as we have done throughout our 125 year history in the United States,” said Jasjit Singh, Executive Director, SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund). “With this policy, one of the largest sheriff’s offices in the country has affirmed that a person does not have to choose between their faith and a career of service,” Singh added.
In December 2008, one month after being elected sheriff, Sheriff Adrian Garcia met with the Sikh American community at the Sikh Center of Houston in the aftermath of a November 2008 incident where a Sikh family alleged to have been harassed by HCSO deputies after calling in a burglary.
That meeting was the first of many Sheriff Garcia has held with the Sikh community and other religious and ethnic groups since taking office in 2009. Upon taking office in January 2009, Sheriff Garcia immediately expanded diversity training for all Sheriff’s Office personnel, overhauled the handling of complaints against deputies from the public, established regular faith leaders meetings, and created a Citizen Advisory Council to foster and improve communication with the public.
In 2014 Sheriff Garcia implemented a religious accommodation policy that basically allows employees to wear items of religious significance with their uniform, as well as accommodate certain religious grooming practices. That same year the HCSO also welcomed its first Sikh communication officer, Navdeep Nijjar. CO Nijjar is currently training at the sheriff’s academy to become a deputy.
“The Harris County and Houston area Sikh American community applauds the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Garcia, Deputy Dhaliwal, and Mr. Nijjar for their leadership and commitment to service,” lauded Bobby Singh, Regional Director, SALDEF. “We hope that young Americans of all backgrounds will follow in their footsteps and serve their local communities.”
Sheriff Adrian Garcia, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and SALDEF will make a formal announcement at a news conference later this week. More details to come.
1 Sikh soldiers allowed to serve, retain their articles of faith
2 D.C. police becomes first major metropolitan police department to allow Sikh officers to wear beards and religious items
3 Sikh deputy finally allowed to serve in uniform
Harris County Sheriff’s Office
1200 Baker St
Houston, TX 77002