One of the largest Sheriff’s offices in the country has announced it will now permit its observant Sikh deputies to wear turbans (dastaars) and traditional beards while in uniform.
This week, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and members of Texas’s Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) officially welcomed Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal to its ranks. At the press conference, Deputy Dhaliwal could be seen wearing his beard and turban with his uniform for the first time.
Deputy Dhaliwal joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in January 2009 as a detention officer. He became a patrol deputy in 2012, but departmental policy at the time did not allow him to wear his turban or beard–both of which are articles of faith of the Sikh religion–while on duty.
“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, 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 to wear turbans, neatly groomed beards, and other articles of faith as long as they do not interfere with the deputy carrying out his or her duties.
What do you think of this Sheriff bending the rules for the Sikh community? Do you think these rules should apply only to Sikhs or should they apply to any religion and articles of faith?