New Zealand: On the beat in Nelson Thursday night, a proud Constable Jagmohan Malhi fulfilled his late father’s dreams and became the first New Zealand police officer to wear a turban on duty.
Mr Malhi, a Sikh police officer who has worked in Nelson for nearly three years, said the Sikh faith required men and women not to cut their hair, and to wear a turban.
Although he had grown up wearing a turban, Mr Malhi said he shaved off his beard and moustache “because of peer pressure” when he moved to Nelson eight years ago.
Then, when he graduated from police training college three years ago, he also shaved his head.
Mr Malhi said his father had wanted him to grow his hair again, but he was unsure then whether any police protocol existed in relation to wearing a turban. When his father died last year, he decided to fulfill his wishes and began researching what other policies were in place for police around the world.
“It was his wish to see me in my turban as a police officer. So I thought I would make it happen.”
At 5pm on Thursday, he clocked in for his first shift in his new uniform.
“What he dreamt of, and what I dreamt of, has been fulfilled.”
While his family were proud to see him in a turban again, Mr Malhi said he had also had a good response from his colleagues, who had been eager to see the turban worn for the first time on the beat.
He said he did not fear racial abuse, as there were people out there who did not like the police, no matter what they wore.
“They will throw anything at you whether you’re wearing a turban or not.”
Mr Malhi said he knew there would be people who would “say a few things”, but said he would simply continue to do his job.
Nelson Bays police area commander Inspector Brian McGurk said adding a turban to the police uniform reflected that the organisation was becoming more diverse and more representative of the communities it worked alongside.
Mr McGurk said he was delighted that the police had been able to help Mr Malhi nurture his religious and cultural beliefs.
He said New Zealand police approved the turban design earlier this year, as a Sikh police recruit was accepted at police training college, although Mr Malhi was the first officer to wear a turban on duty.
There had been extensive consultation between the police ethnic responsiveness coordinator, its uniform standards co-ordinator and the Sikh community before the turban was approved, he said.
Photo Copyright: MARION VAN DIJK/Nelson Mail