Badge of Honor: New Police Guidelines Given to Sikh Americans in CaliforniaMarch 13th, 2014
Sikh Americans are in a unique position! The Riverside Police Department (RPD) wants Sikh Americans to apply to its force. TheRPD is the first police department in California, and only the second in the nation, to proactively amend their uniform guidance so Sikhs can serve.
The guidelines include religious accommodations for potential recruits of the Sikh faith, and specifically allow Sikh American police officers to maintain articles of faith, including turbans and beards, while on duty. This is a powerful way for us—Sikh Americans—to show that we are part of the community.
The change at Riverside PD follows months of collaboration with SALDEF and the local community. This follows the policy change by the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), which became the nation’s first law enforcement agency to fully accept Sikh American officers and candidates.
“I am happy to report that we have made it possible to accept qualified recruits of the Sikh faith without lowering our standards nor requiring that anyone compromise their religious beliefs,” said Chief Diaz. “Having a police department that reflects the community that it serves is an important goal. I’m very grateful to SALDEF for working with us to achieve an important milestone in our department’s history. Sikhism has a long tradition of service and protection, and so, it is a natural source of talent for the police service. I look forward to more opportunities for collaboration with SALDEF and the Sikh community.”
“We applaud the Riverside Police Department and Chief Diaz for their progressive and pioneering leadership with being the first law enforcement department in California to allow Sikh Americans to serve with our identity intact”, said SALDEF Executive Director Jasjit Singh. “This is particularly significant as California has both the oldest and largest Sikh population in the country. We are hopeful that this collaboration will serve as a model for other law enforcement agencies and departments across California, the country and to our armed services.”