New Zealand’s First Turbaned Police Officer — Amaninder Singh Sandhu
Sikh Council ofAmaninder Singh Sandhu on becoming the first Sikh New Zealand Police Officer to don a turban on duty. It is an historically significant moment for the Sikh community of New Zealand. A lot of work has gone into making this moment possible, and for the record some of the statements circulating in the media need to be corrected. Following is the correct sequence of events:
- Around September 2007, a turbaned Sikh, Amaninder Singh Sandhu, started undergoing the police recruitment process. As he progressed through various stages of the process, it became apparent that he would sail through the process and pose some questions around turban to NZ Police.
- November 2007 regarding protocols around turban and met for the first time on December 11, 2007 in Auckland. During this meeting Amaninder Singh Sandhu was also present. In this meeting NZ Police was given a sample turban (tied in its proper shape) for approval by the top brass. It was also agreed that this turban will be placed in NZ Police Museum to mark its historical significance. and the Sikh Council of New Zealand made contact towards the end of
- It is important to note that by December 2007 at least six members of the Sikh community were serving with NZ Police, which also included Constable Jagmohan Malhi. Since none of them was practicing the most visible aspect of Sikh faith, viz., long unshorn hair covered with a turban that signifies walking in God’s Will, the question of establishing protocols around turban as part of NZ Police Uniform did not arise. This became necessary only when Amaninder Singh Sandhu started undergoing the recruitment process.
- On December 21, 2007 the Sikh Council received confirmation from National Manager for Uniform and Equipment that the sample turban had been accepted by the top brass and the process of establishing protocols governing the turban could now go ahead.
- The next step in this process was to visit the RNZ Police College and report the areas where the turban could pose some questions during training. A three member team of the Sikh Council visited RNZPC on March 24-25, 2008 experiencing first hand the life of a recruit and pointing out areas where some adjustments needed to be made. All the issues of concern, to the Sikhs and to the NZ Police, were sorted out in the spirit of accommodation and understanding that has marked this process from the very beginning and for this NZ Police must be commended wholeheartedly. Later on, the questions like supply of turban material and the modifications to the were also resolved.
- Thus it was that Amaninder Singh Sandhu entered RNZPC on June 9, 2008 as the first turbaned recruit to NZ Police.
Thus, Amaninder Singh Sandhu has the following firsts to his credit:
- On June 9, 2008 he became the first turbaned recruit to enter Royal New Zealand Police College
- In the second week of his training, he became the first turbaned recruit to take the Police Oath
- On September 1, 2008 he became the first turbaned New Zealand Police Officer to perform beat duty in Auckland Central, where he made arrests and issued traffic violation tickets amongst other duties of a Police Officer
Putting the above on public record has become necessary due to the erroneous information sourced from a couple of journalists’ imagination (in order to appear “original”) that the first turbaned police officer of NZ Police is Jaggi Malhi. For the erroneous information see the links below:
The facts about Jagmohan Singh Malhi’s claim to being the first turbaned police officer are:
- In May 2008 Sikh Council was told by NZ Police of the wishes of Constable Jaggi Malhi to start practicing his faith again. This raised the question of guidelines to decide who may or may not don a turban as part of the police uniform. Sikh Council’s main concern was that they did not want the wrong practice of depilated heads covered with turban, taking root in NZ. “Turban is an extension of an article of faith, the unshorn hair that a Sikh is required to keep,” said Verpal Singh, Secretary of the Sikh Council of New Zealand. “If one does not have the unshorn hair there is no need to modify the existing rules governing Police headwear. Unshorn hair of a Sikh must be covered with a turban and nothing else, whereas depilated hair may be covered with the normal Police cap.”
- These issues were sorted during a meeting at RNZPC on June 13, 2008 which was also attended by Constable Malhi. Constable Malhi was told to grow his hair and beard which he agreed to do during his six week leave, on return from which he could then replace his normal Police headwear with a turban. He was also required to give an undertaking that if he decides to cut his hair, he must inform his superiors and return to the normal police headwear.
- Thus it was that Constable Jagmohan Malhi donned the turban for the first time on September 11, 2008 at 5.00pm and became focus of some very positive news reports.
So whichever way we look at it, the honour of being the First Turbaned Police Officer of New Zealand must go to Amaninder Singh Sandhu.
Both Amaninder Singh Sandhu and Jagmohan Singh Malhi are a cause for great pride for the Sikh community of New Zealand.
The YouTube video may be watched at this link: