HOUSTON: Amrit Singh was sworn in Tuesday as Harris County’s first Sikh Deputy Constable, formalising a new policy that allows women and men in uniform to wear articles of faith.

Under the new policy, Deputy Constable Singh will be allowed to wear his turban while on-duty.

Speaking at the ceremony, Amrit Singh said at the age of 20, he attended police academy and then sought out a place to work that would be inclusive of his religious beliefs and customs.

“Growing up I always wanted to be a deputy,” stated Amrit Singh, and that “I didn’t want to give up my religion to serve,” said Singh. “The constable’s office opened their doors to me, where I didn’t have to sacrifice any part of me.” 

Amrit Singh will now go on to months of field training, after which he will be assigned to patrol within Precinct One.  

Harris County made national headlines in 2015 after sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal fought for and won the rights to wear his turban and beard on duty. At the time of the beloved deputy’s murder last year, just a few dozen law enforcement agencies across the United States — and the U.S. Army — had uniform policies with religious accommodations allowing Sikhs to serve in accordance with their faith.

Following the death of Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, in October the Houston police department made similar accommodations in its policies facilitating constables across the county to wear articles of faith, including turbans, while on duty.

On Tuesday, Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen announced at Singh’s swearing-in ceremony that the county’s eight constables supported accommodations for Sikhs to serve while adhering to their religion.

“As a man of the Jewish faith, I know how it feels to be religiously targeted and how important it is to teach inclusion, understanding and tolerance,” Rosen said, standing in front of representatives from the county’s other constable offices. “To me, wearing a yarmulke or him wearing a turban really doesn’t impact the quality of work of what he’s going to do. It should have zero impact on public safety or what job we do. Are you going to care if the person showing up to your door to help save you has a turban or yarmulke? You’re not. You’re just happy they’re there to save you and keep you safe.”

“From day one we have worked to make sure that [the constable’s office] is an employer of inclusion,” said Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen.

Both Amrit Singh and Rosen said they share a hope that Sikhs will be inspired to look for a career in law enforcement following the more inclusive policies.

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