The Sikh Officers Association had worked very hard directly with the NYPD to revise a policy that affected over 180 Sikh officers when it came to wearing turbans while on duty. Towards the end of 2016, the NYPD finally allowed officers to wear turbans and grow beards for religious reasons. Earlier this year, Gursoch Kaur, a 20-year-old Indian-American woman from Queens, New York, became the first turbaned Sikh woman to join the New York Police Department.
The achievement of becoming the first turbaned Sikh woman out of the 35,400 full-time uniformed police officers is highly recognized and praised across the Sikh community in the United States. Delare Rathour, the vice president of the Sikh Officers Association, who is also an NYPD officer himself, shared with HuffPost.
"Auxiliary Police Officer Kaur’s accomplishment by joining NYPD Auxiliary has been ground breaking. She will be joining the largest Auxiliary Police Program in the United States. Officer Kaur will make all Sikhs around the world proud!" Rathour said.
Auxiliary Police Officers (APO) are officers who are trained to assist local police precincts, housing police service areas and transit districts. "By the community seeing officer Kaur wearing a turban and in uniform they will feel nothing but pride, seeing one of their own serving her community," stated Rathour.
As APO Kaur continues her studies at Nassau Community College, she hopes that being an Auxiliary Police Officer will bring her one step closer to becoming a full-time, sworn-in police officer. However, her achievements thus far have left the Sikh community feeling a little more visible.
"I feel blessed. The only reason people are interested is because of my dastar (turban)," Kaur shared with Desi Talk. "People haven’t seen anything like that. It’s great because it gives me an opportunity to tell them what’s behind the turban, educate them. That’s how we love one another."
The Sikh turban had previously been banned from police officer’s attire, but as of December 2016, Sikh officers were allowed to wear blue turbans with the NYPD logo on it. The Sikh turban was once only worn by royalty, however the Sikh faith believes that everyone is equal and there is no higher or lower class among them. Being so, turbans were mandated for everyone who practices the religion, and they stand for equality, compassion, honesty and service.
"They realized this a diverse city and that a more diverse police force is necessary," said Gurvinder Singh, the president of the Sikh Officers Association, to HuffPost.
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