"Serving and protecting a diverse population like ours requires consistent engagement, open minds, and continued education," said Chief of the Irvine Police Department Mike Hamel. "We appreciate the Sikh Coalition's guidance as we worked to ensure that our uniform policy is inclusive of all who might wish to serve."
The nation’s attention was drawn to the service of Sikh Americans last fall with the death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, but Sikhs have long served honorably with their articles of faith across the United States. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was among the first municipal agencies in the nation to accommodate an observant Sikh in 2004. Since then, accommodation policies have been developed by the U.S. Army and several law enforcement agencies, including the New York Police Department, Chicago Police Department, U.S. Federal Protective Service, Houston Police Department, and more.
“As law enforcement agencies proactively change uniform policies that prohibit religious articles of faith, observant Sikhs will no longer face the choice between pursuing their career and sacrificing their religion,” said Sikh Coalition Policy and Advocacy Manager, Nikki Singh. “We applaud the Irvine Police Department's commitment to fair and equal employment opportunities and hope that other law enforcement agencies will follow their lead.”
California is home to a steadily growing Sikh American population, with more than 70 gurdwaras statewide. Over the past year, the Sikh Coalition has galvanized community support for hate crime legislation such as AB 300
, AB 301
, and AB 1052
. We have also worked with the California Attorney General’s office to recommend improvements on hate crime data collection and legislation, and collaborated with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to develop training videos and a model hate crime policy.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.