America’s capital – Washington DC – will be the first place to allow turbaned Sikhs to join the police department.
Washington DC’s police chief on Wednesday gave the green light for turbaned Sikhs to serve as officers, making the capital the first major US city to accommodate the religion’s articles of faith.
The police department said that 4,000 officers have gone through cultural training to sensitize them to the Sikh faith and that the first Sikh American keeping his turban and beard was expected to join the force in August.
This is quite a victory for the Sikh community, because even New York, which is home to a very high population of Sikhs doesn’t allow turbaned Sikhs to serve in active duty. Los Angeles county allows turbaned Sikhs but on in the sheriff department reserves – not on active duty.
In this area, US has a long way to go before it catches up to even the basic religious freedom laws already in place in UK and Canada, where turbaned Sikhs can serve in the police.
Jasjit Singh of Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund shared the stage with Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Jasjit Singh of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which partnered with Washington’s police department, hailed the US capital for “affirming that religion is no bar in public service.”
“We hope that other police departments around the country will follow their pioneering leadership,” Singh told the news conference.
“It was over 100 years ago that Sikh Americans came to this country. Today we join our counterparts across the world in being able to protect our communities — and proudly wear our turbans and beards while doing so.”