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Jujhar Singh Becomes 1st Sikh Police Officer in California’s Alameda County

Jujhar Singh Becomes 1st Sikh Police Officer in California’s Alameda County

A newly-minted Sikh American cop has made history by becoming the first turbaned police officer in California’s Alameda County. Officer Jujhar Singh, 23, joined the Hayward Police Department after graduating from the 167th Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Basic Police Academy on May 18. The police academy is said to be one of the most difficult academies in California. 

There have been other Sikh officers in the Bay Area, but Singh told KTVU Fox 2 that he hopes that in ten or fifteen years, having a turbaned officer will be just the norm. He said he’s proud to wear his Sikh articles of faith along with his police officer badge. “It feels great. It’s a dream come true,” Singh told KTVU.

He told the news channel that he is aware that the public might not be used to seeing an officer who looks like him. “They might even have questions about the turban, or some people may not know who I am or where I came from, and that’ll be an opportunity for me to introduce myself to them,” he told KTVU. 

Singh first thought of becoming a police officer at age 10. The young Singh met then-Hayward police Capt. Darryl McAllister, who had stopped to get a cold drink, at a gas station in Hayward that his father Bhupinder Singh still owns. He gave Singh a junior officer police badge — a sticker. “So I felt that was the coolest thing ever,” he told KTVU. 

Thirteen years later, Hayward police Chief Toney Chaplin told KTVU that he didn’t think twice about hiring Singh. “We hired him because he’s a great candidate. He did everything that every other candidate has to do to get the position. He just happens to wear a turban,” Chaplin said.

Sikh American police officers have been making strides in their fight to be able to wear their articles of faith — a turban, beard, and uncut hair — in the line of duty.

This January, Amrit Singh, 21, a law enforcement officer in Harris County, Texas, was sworn in as the first-ever Sikh deputy constable in the state with his articles of faith. His swearing-in coincided with the adoption of a new policy that allows law enforcement officers in nearly every single Harris County Constable’s Office to wear articles of their faith while in uniform.

Similarly, the Irvine Police Department in California has implemented a policy change beginning this year, allowing employees and personnel to wear their articles of faith while on duty.

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Last year, Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, the first Sikh American to become a deputy in the greater Houston area was fatally shot on Sept. 27, 2019 at a traffic stop. Dhaliwal was hailed as a trailblazer for being one of the first to wear the traditional Sikh articles of faith as part of his uniform. 

However, it’s not just Sikh American men who are fighting for their rights, women are not far behind. In 2018, Gursoach Kaur, a then college sophomore at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, became the first turbaned female Auxiliary Police Officer in NYPD. Kaur joined NYPD as APO after graduating from the New York City Police Academy on May 16, 2018.

According to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund,  the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, became the first major police department in the U.S. “to explicitly and voluntarily allow Sikh Americans to serve as full-time, uniformed police officers while keeping their articles of faith.” The Riverside, California Police Department followed suit, “becoming the first police department in California, and only the second in the nation, to proactively amend their uniform guidance so Sikh Americans can serve.”

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