The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) recently formed a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, DC, to train all 3,000 officers of their force about the Sikh American community and their religious practices.
The program, which has been ongoing since March 2007, has trained over 1,000 MPD officers to date. They join the roughly 5,000 local, state, and federal officers trained this year as part of SALDEF’s Law Enforcement Partnership Program (LEPP).
“It is of paramount importance that we reach out to and create strong bonds with law enforcement,” said SALDEF Managing Director Kavneet Singh. “Law enforcement agencies understand the importance of actively engaging with the communities they protect and together through programs like our LEPP, we can create a stronger and safer community.”
Despite being part of the American landscape for about one hundred years, misconceptions still exist about the Sikh American community. Nine out of ten LEPP graduates have reported that what they learned will immediately help them better serve and protect their communities.
The training program is designed to provide law enforcement with an understanding of the Sikh religion and provide recommendations on how to appropriately interact with the community in non-emergency, non-crisis situations. The program utilizes a professionally designed interactive presentation, SALDEF’s Training DVD On Common Ground, and other educational publications including our Who are the Sikhs brochure and SALDEF’s pioneering Law Enforcement Reference Card.
One MPD officer said, “[The SALDEF Program is] the best hour of training I’ve had in twenty years on the force.” Community leaders have also noted stronger and friendlier relationships between law enforcement and the Sikh American community. Since its inception, the heads of the over 150 agencies and 30,000 law enforcement and security officers who have gone through LEPP. [SALDEF Press Release]
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