Española New Mexico Hires First Sikh Police Officer

July 31, 2008

Author: Wren Abbott

Source: The Rio Grande Sunñola-new-mexico-hires-first-sikh-police-officer

The Española New Mexico Police Department will be making history Aug 11 with the hiring of a new officer Abinashi Singh Khalsa, the first member of the Valley's Slkh Dharma community member to work as a full-time cop.

The grooming policy at Los Angeles County Sherrif's Department, where Khalsa currently works part-time as a deputy, prevents him from being hired full-time there, Khalsa said Monday. As part of their religious practice, Sikh men typically wear turban[s] and grow long beards.

Because of federal regulations requiring employers to reasonably accommodate different religions, the Española Police Department is bending its own grooming policy, which requires officers to wear their hair short and also prohibits them from growing facial hair, except for a well-trimmed mustache, in order to allow Khalsa to join the force and continue to observe his spiritual practice, Deputy Chief Larry Ham said Monday.