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.
Dep. Dhaliwal joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in January 2009 as a detention officer. He became a patrol deputy in 2012 but per departmental policy at the time, he wasn't allowed to wear a turban or beard- both articles of faith of the Sikh religion. Thanks to Sheriff Garcia that policy now has changed.
"Sheriff Garcia's commitment to inclusion will help ensure that Harris County continues to attract the best and brightest from across our community to serve," said Bobby Singh, Regional Director, SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund). "We cherish the values that are cultivated through a career in law enforcement, like service and commitment," he added.
In 2014, Sheriff Garcia allowed for exceptions to the HCSO's uniform policy to allow certain employees such as Dep. Dhaliwal to wear turbans, neatly groomed beards, and other articles of faith.
In doing so, the Harris County Sheriff's Office joins the United States military and other law enforcement agencies across the country that have made religious accommodations for observant Sikh employees among their ranks.
"We are proud of our six year partnership with the HCSO as they continue to set best practices for the law enforcement community. We believe that this announcement will inspire other local law enforcement units from around the country to follow in Harris County's footsteps," said Jasjit Singh, Executive Director, SALDEF.
Some 25 million people around the world practice Sikhism, the fifth largest religion. Sikhism originated in the Punjab region in India.