They write letters to the Department of Defense and national police agencies.
Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, who lost his life in the line of duty last month, is mourned not just across the Sikh American community but also by everyone who valued diversity in America. The slain officer symbolized the multicultural ethos of the country and heralded it in more ways than one. Now citizens across the US are urging the policymakers to take note of his contributions.
Recently 98 former and current Sikh service members and law enforcement officials delivered letters to the U.S. Department of Defense and national police agencies calling for changes to accommodation policies for religious minorities. Paying tribute to Dhaliwal’s service, these Sikh Americans urged their respective institutions to streamline the process for all Americans that are willing and able to serve with their religious articles of faith intact.
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The first letter urges state and local law enforcement to adopt clear accommodation policies for aspirant officers following in Dhaliwal’s footsteps. The second letter calls on the U.S. Department of Defense to implement a streamlined accommodation process across all branches of the U.S. military, similar to the policy change implemented by the U.S. Army in 2017, allowing religious accommodation of observant Sikh service members.
According to the civil rights organization Sikh Coalition, at the moment, approximately 25 U.S. law enforcement agencies allow religious accommodations for Sikhs, while the U.S. Air Force, Marines, and Navy still have policies that prohibit Sikhs and other religious minorities from serving with their religious articles of faith.
“In 2015, Deputy Dhaliwal became the first Sikh on the force to wear his articles of faith, including his turban and unshorn hair, while serving,” said Manpreet Singh, a Sikh Coalition board member and Houston community leader. “In doing so, he exemplified the Sikh ideal of seva, or selfless service to his community. Though his passing is deeply painful, it serves as an important reminder that the Sikh faith poses no barriers to serving our communities proudly.”
By advancing long overdue policies in his name, Sikhs in law enforcement and the military hope to ensure that the next generation of public servants is able to follow their career calling while staying true to their faith traditions.