HOUSTON — The Houston Police Department has announced policy changes when it comes to wearing articles of faith while on duty after the passing of Harris County deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, who was a role model for both the force and the Sikh community.
The Dhaliwal policy allows officers from religious minority communities to wear articles of faith while serving with HPD. Mayor Sylvester Turner said the decision makes HPD the largest law enforcement agency in Texas to adopt a policy that expands accommodations for religious minorities.
The new policy was announced at a ceremony with local law enforcement leaders and Dhaliwal’s father present.
Dhaliwal, who was killed during a traffic stop in September, was the first law enforcement officer in Texas to wear his articles of faith— his beard and turban— while on duty.
Turner said the policy didn’t just change on its own, but it was Dhaliwal that laid the foundation for this to happen.
"Through his service, his commitment, the way he served, the dedication and the passion that he gave to his job made this day possible,” Turner said.
Chief Art Acevedo and Turner both made comments saying it was about time this changed and it's part of walking the walk— not just talking the talk when it comes to Houston being a diverse city.
Acevedo said the department was already working on the policy before Dhaliwal was killed, but the officer's death helped to expedite the process. He said it just couldn't wait any longer.
“You can’t just be welcoming and diverse, you have to be inclusive, and inclusivity and bringing people means we have to change our policy,” Acevedo said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez also spoke during the announcement and presented a special challenge to law enforcement agencies across the nation.
“I’ll close simply with extending a challenge to all American law enforcement, small and large, don’t wait anymore. Do what’s right. The doors have been opened,” Gonzalez said.