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Friday, February 8, 2008

U.S. Department of Justice puts educational video about sikhs

U.S. Department of Justice puts educational video about sikhs

"A law enforcement training video on Sikh cultural and religious sensitivity was posted Monday on the U.S. Department of Justice web site.

A year after the Sikh American video for training law enforcement officers was released on DVD, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service put it on its web site Monday, making it available to police agencies nationally and abroad.

The 17-minute video, called ‘On Common Ground: Sikh American Cultural Competency Training for Law Enforcement,’ informs police and security officers how to approach Sikhs in a respectful manner while still performing their duties effectively.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where the video was created, every effort was made to show the DVD to community groups and police organizations, said David Baker. Now, with it available online, Baker said he would like it to be played at roll-call, at the early-morning briefings before patrol officers go on duty.“I want everyone to see it,” Baker said. “The academy should use it.”He is talking about the county’s Public Service Training Academy, which trains all officers in the various police agencies in the county.

Officers deployed in areas with larger Sikh populations around the county have seen the DVD, he said. “Law enforcement that have seen it were really quite thrilled with it,” Baker added, who also appears in the video. “They found it informative to their duties.”

‘On Common Ground’ was created by the DOJ and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

Since its initial release in January 2007, more than 65,000 law enforcement personnel, including all Transportation Security Administration airport screeners, have viewed it said Rajbir Singh, SALDEF national director.“It’s now online to make sure as many people as possible can view it,” Singh said.

”Law enforcement and Sikh community representatives in other countries have also asked for the video, Singh added. The DVD was sent to Ireland (that's what we need here in Ireland), the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, India, and Brazil for use in their local law enforcement agencies.

Although the laws and policies described in the video are American-based, Singh said he expects those countries to use it as a template in their own training or their own country-specific video. “There seems to be a greater need abroad for this video,” Singh said. “There is nothing like it.” It’s a very proactive approach here and abroad, he added. Word gets out and they want a copy because they need it.

Singh said the video has had an especially positive outcome in the treatment of Sikh travelers at airports. SALDEF has received hundreds of positive letters in which travelers say they don’t feel like they are targeted. And even if they have to go through extra security, the screening is handled respectfully. Ondray T Harris, DOJ-CRS acting director, could not be reached for comment, but he states on web site: "…Awareness of cultural and religious observations can help avoid misunderstanding and tension. Towards this goal, On Common Ground can assist the public in understanding the challenges and realizing the contributions of the Sikh community in the United States…”

By Anju KaurSikh News Network staff journalist


This article comes from SikhNN

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