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Pride & Dignity


Jun 1, 2004
Pride & Dignity


Jagmohan Singh didn't have to choose between his dream job and honouring his religion.

The Howick (New Zealand) constable is one of three in the country to wear a turban as part of the police uniform.

Jagmohan's Sikh religion would have prevented him from joining the police if he was unable to wear a turban.

He says he is happy with the design and is proud to wear it.

The turban made its debut into the police uniform in 2008 when a Nelson constable was the first to wear one, paving the way for other people from the Sikh religion.

The design was finalised after consultation with the officer, police managers, the police uniform standards co-ordinator, the police ethnic responsiveness co-ordinator and members of the Sikh community in New Zealand.

Wearing a turban is "about dignity and respect", Jagmohan Singh says.

Many people take an interest in his turban while he's on the beat, providing plenty of conversation starters.

He says he has always had a positive reception from the public and his colleagues don't see him as any different to other officers. He is pleased the police are willing to accommodate cultural and religious considerations to allow people from different backgrounds to join the force.

Jagmohan has been wearing a turban since he was a toddler and has never had a haircut. The only time he removes his turban is at home.

In the Sikh culture, hair is sacred and needs to be kept covered, clean and neat, and wearing a turban shows respect, like taking shoes off at the gurdwara, he says.

In his experience, the turban is well-respected in New Zealand and it has never posed a problem or hinderance while entering any public venues.

While it is common for some places to require people to remove hats, a turban is different because they are worn all the time rather than as an accessory, he says.

"It's part of our identity."

And there isn't a chance of it falling off while chasing someone because it fits securely. Jagmohan Singh says there is also a smaller version he can wear if he needs to wear a protective helmet.

Counties Manukau police human resources manager Brendan Ryan says it is part of a much wider police commitment to diversify the police force and to make the community feel well-represented by different cultures. He hopes having the force open to turban-wearing police officers will open the doors for other Sikh-NewZealanders to join.

[Courtesy: Eastern Courier]

May 14, 2010


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