SEA GIRT—(SBN)—New Jersey State Police cadets got a training class to learn how to interact with the Sikh American community this week. Volunteer trainers from the Sikh American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, known as SALDEF, explained Sikh culture and religious practices to 170 recruits at the State Police training center in Sea Girt as part of the organization’s Law Enforcement Partnership Program or LEPP. The program helps dispel misconceptions about the Sikh community and allows police officers to ask questions interact with members of the minority community, whose dress includes turbans and beards, which are often regarded.
You can hear our complete interview with SALDEF Trainer Kiran Kaur in the audio player below.
One of the volunteer trainers, Kiran Kaur of Princeton, says the Law Enforcement Partnership Program helps dispel misconceptions about the Sikh community and allows police officers to interact with members of the minority community, whose religious practices and dress includes wearing turbans and beards, which are often regarded with suspicion.
“The attendees were very engaged, and for a number of the recruits, it was the first time they were exposed to the Sikh religion,” Kaur said. “The feedback from the group was very positive and created a critical opportunity with law enforcement for an open and constructive dialogue.”
“This was a very interesting presentation. I learned a lot and the material kept me interested,” was feedback from one of the cadets. “I honestly never heard of Sikhism until today.”
The LEPP program was started in 1999 to increase awareness about Sikhs to law enforcement officers and security personnel across the country and develop strong relationships between them and their local Sikh American sangats. SALDEF says it has trained more than 100,000 police officers and others.