Raleigh, North Carolina: United Sikhs and the Sikh Gurudwara of North Carolina (SGNC) this week announced the completion of the first ever Sikh Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training for the Raleigh Police department. The training was conducted in 12 sessions. The aim of these sessions was to explain who Sikhs are, their five articles of faith, and how to uphold Sikh religious sentiments and sensitivities while interacting with the Sikh community. From July 7 to August 19, about 800 Raleigh law enforcement agents, including detectives and uniformed and community police officers, attended the training sessions.
The officers were shown the law enforcement training video ‘On Common Ground’ produced by the United States Department of Justice, which was followed by a questions and answers session. United Sikhs and SGNC members answered a variety of questions including what the colors of a turban mean, the significance of a ‘kirpan’ (ceremonial knife), status of women, and discussed situations in which police officers would be required to interact with the Sikh community. The officers showed much enthusiasm and curiosity and articles of faith – the ‘kanga’, the ‘kara’ and the ‘kirpan’ were circulated around as exhibits.
For the past year and a half, representatives from United Sikhs and SGNC have been working closely with U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker who facilitated discussions with Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. These training sessions would not have been possible without the support of both Walker and Deck-Brown. The United Sikhs and SGNC were also thankful to training officers Renae Lockhart and Michael Macario for coordinating ground efforts and managing operational details of the training.
These 12 sessions with the local police department served as a fantastic opportunity to showcase principles of Sikhism and help avoid ignorance. The United Sikhs and SGNC said they look forward to continue working with the U.S. attorney’s office and Raleigh Police Chief to help facilitate and organize similar training sessions in surrounding cities and counties in North Carolina.
Earlier in July, United Sikhs attorneys traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, to train law enforcement and other state personnel on Sikh practices. It was for the first time that a training of this kind was conducted in the State of Mississippi. Training was successfully imparted to a packed room which included the United States Attorney for the Southern District of MS, local FBI supervisory agent and the Deputy Attorney General.