Harris County in Texas, gets first Sikh Deputy Constable

indica News Bureau-

Twenty one year old Indian-American law enforcement officer, Amrit Singh, has created history by becoming the first ever turban-wearing Sikh to be sworn in as Deputy Constable in Harris County in the US state of Texas on January 21. He wears the articles of his faith- turban and beard proudly while serving in the line of duty. 

The swearing -in ceremony on Tuesday, coincided with the adoption of a new picy by the state that allows law enforcement officers in nearly every single Harris County Constable’s Office to wear articles of their faith while in uniform. For Sikhs, that means being able to wear a turban and beard while on duty.

Constable Alan Rosen Harris County tweeted, “An historic day as we swear in Deputy Constable Amrit Singh – the FIRST Sikh deputy Constable ever in Harris County. We’ve also now adopted a new policy which specifically allows our deputy constables to wear articles of faith in uniform.”

After the swearing in ceremony, Singh said, “Growing up, I always wanted to be a deputy and my Sikh faith was also very important to me. Constable Alan Rosen was the first one to give me a call back. He opened this agency with open arms for me.”

Singh added that he always wanted to work as a peace officer and had spent years in law enforcement explorer programs and five months in a police training academy. 

According to a report in The Tribune, Precinct 1 Constable Rosen said the county’s eight constables supported accommodations for Sikhs to serve while adhering to their religion. “As a man of the Jewish faith, I know how it feels to be religiously targeted and how important it is to teach inclusion, understanding and tolerance,” Rosen said, adding,  “To me, wearing a yarmulke or him wearing a turban really doesn’t impact the quality of work he’s going to do. It should have zero impact on public safety or what job we do. Are you going to care if the person showing up to your door to help save you has a turban or yarmulke? You’re not. You’re just happy they’re there to save you and keep you safe.”

Singh will now have to undergo months of field training, after which he will be assigned to patrol within Precinct One.

The policy has been made to honor the memory of the first Sikh who fought for and won the rights to wear his turban and beard on duty, in 2015- sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal. He was shot last year during a traffic stop last year. In 2009, he was the first Sikh to join the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and in 2015, he became the first Sikh law enforcement officer to be allowed to wear his articles of faith in uniform. 

“We honour his legacy by honouring his faith here today,” Rosen said.

Following the death of the officer, law enforcement agencies in California, Washington and in Texas have signalled willingness to change their policies, said Manpreet Singh of the Sikh Coalition, which advocates for religious accommodations for minority communities in public and private sectors.

“It makes me proud to be a Houstonian, and a Texan. I hope the rest of the nation follows Texas,” she said.

The new policy has been welcomed by the members if the Sikh community residing in the US. Bobby Singh, a community leader said, “Legacy of Dhaliwal is not far removed, it clearly recognized and acknowledge his service and this is a gift that continues to give in his recognition and legacy.”

 Singh who drew inspiration from Dhaliwal said, “I could just hope that I could be half as decent a cop as he ever was, and everything I do, I want people to know that I’m doing it following in his footsteps.”

“He made our community proud,” said Suhel Singh, Deputy Singh’s father.

Singh’s parents were recognized at the ceremony. They told FOX 26 that they were proud to see their son pursue his passion even though it is a dangerous job.

“The way I look at it, maybe it will make me pray harder and be more praying for his protection from God,” said Singh’s mother Sukie Kaur.

Singh is now one of just two law enforcement officers in the county wearing a turban.