New York: For the first time, the New York Police Department got its female turbaned Sikh auxiliary police officer, who has been inducted to motivate others to join law enforcement and help create better understanding of Sikhism.
Gursoach Kaur will join the New York Police Department as an Auxiliary Police Officer (APO) after graduating last week from the New York City Police Academy.
“We are proud to welcome first Sikh turbaned female Auxiliary Police Officer in the New York Police Department. APO Gursoach Kaur and other Auxiliary Police Officers graduated from the academy. We are proud of you. Stay safe. #sikhsinlawenforcement,” the Sikh Officers Association tweeted.
The association said in a Facebook post that it is “proud” to welcome Kaur to the Police Department.
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri also tweeted about Kaur, expressing hope that a turbaned lady officer will help create better understanding of Sikhism in the US.
“Delighted to see a turbaned lady officer in NYPD. Hope this fosters better understanding of Sikhism and Sikhs and corrects perceptions in the US so that incident which happened with me in 2010 and recently with Canada minister Navdeep Bains do not recur. Sikhs are ambassadors of harmony,” Puri tweeted.
He was referring to the 2010 incident in which Puri, then Ambassador to the UN, was asked by airport officials to remove his turban during a security check at Houston Airport. When Puri refused to remove his turban, the officials made him wait for over half-an-hour in a holding room.
The matter was resolved only after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official, accompanying Puri, intervened. India had lodged an official protest with US authorities over the incident.
New York Police commissioner James O’Neill had said in 2016 that there are about 160 Sikh officers serving in various ranks and he was looking to expand those numbers.
In December 2016, the NYPD had said it will allow its Sikh officers to wear turbans and maintain beards, relaxing its uniform policy to promote inclusiveness and encourage the minority community members to join the force.
Under the revised policy, officers from the Sikh faith were allowed to have beards that extend up to one-half inch from the face. The officers may also wear blue turbans ‘with a hat shield it affixed to it’ in place of the traditional police cap.