Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal: A Tribute to the Harris County Officer

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HCSO Sandeep Dhaliwal  Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, the Harris County Texas Sheriff’s Deputy who was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop, made a historical first on the department when he was allowed to wear his turban on patrol because of his Sikh religion  “Deputy Dhaliwal is known to everybody as someone with a giving heart,” the sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, said in a news conference He was the “first member of the Sikh community to become a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy He wore the turban. He represented his community with integrity, respect and pride and… he was respected by all ” Dhaliwal’s death left the department and community heartbroken, as he was remembered as a trailblazing law enforcement officer who was dedicated to service Authorities say that Dhaliwal was “ambushed” by a suspect with a violent criminal history who ran up behind him during a traffic stop  “I’m sad to share with you that we’ve lost one of our own. Our @HCSOTexas was unable to recover from his injuries There are no words to convey our sadness. Please keep his family and our agency in your prayers,” Gonzalez announced on Twitter  In the press conference, the Sheriff called Dhaliwal “a hero, a respected member of the community and a trailblazer ” Here’s what you need to know:1. Sandeep Dhaliwal, Who Worked for Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 10 Years, Once Urged People to Be Proud of Wearing ‘Blue’   According to Click 2, Dhaliwal joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Department in 2008, when he started serving as a detention officer before becoming a deputy four years later In the press conference, Gonzalez confirmed that Dhaliwal had served on the department for 10 years  When Deputy Darren Goforth was murdered in Harris County, Dhaliwal was “consoling his community with hugs” and told ABC13: “He’s one of the reasons I am in uniform today ” According to the television station, Dhaliwal visited Goforth’s memorial daily and urged people to support law enforcement officers more visibly  “Just wear blue. Wear blue and be proud of that,” Dhaliwal said to ABC13 then. “And that shows support to law enforcement Simple as that.”2. Dhaliwal Was Approved to Wear the Symbols of His Sikh Faith, Including the Turban   In 2015, Deputy Dhaliwal was allowed to wear his beard and turban (called a dastaar) while on patrol as a deputy because they are required by his Sikh faith, the television station reported He was the first Texas law enforcement officer allowed to wear a turban on duty. “Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal beamed with pride when then-Sheriff @AdrianGarciaHTX announced he could wear his Sikh turbin and a beard while on duty,” The Harris County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter According to Click2Houston, for the first six years on the force, Dhaliwal couldn’t wear his beard and turban but the sheriff worked to change the policy alongside the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund  The Sikh Coalition explains, “The founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, was born in the region of Punjab, South Asia, in 1469 CE He lived a life of spirituality, service, and honesty, and the disciples who began to follow his teachings came to be known as Sikhs ” According to the Sikh Coalition, “Perhaps the most visible aspect of the Sikh identity is the turban, which can be worn by men and women alike The turban was historically worn by royalty in South Asia, and the Gurus adopted this practice as a way of asserting the sovereignty and equality of all people For a Sikh, wearing a turban asserts a public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty ” Garcia said he believes the change will inspire other law enforcement agencies to make religious accommodations to employees  ABC13 reported that Dhaliwal was “an entrepreneur who sold a lucrative business in order to go into law enforcement ” “This tragic loss is a grave reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every single day I thank the officers who bravely responded to apprehend the suspect, and I assure you that the state of Texas is committed to bringing this killer to justice,” the Texas governor said of Dhaliwal’s death 3. The Slain Deputy Helped the Community During Hurricane Harvey & Flew to Puerto Rico to Help There Too   When Houston and surrounding areas suffered the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, Dhaliwal was there to help the community  Post Harvey, “when we needed the most help, he brought an 18 wheeler of people he gathered together who came all the way from California to deliver goods to our community,” Gonzalez recalled “When a colleague needed help because his relatives were in Puerto Rico after the hurricane there,” continued the sheriff, Deputy Dhaliwal “went on a trip with Commissioner Garcia to help support the Puerto Rican community ” Many stories were told about Deputy Dhaliwal, said Gonzalez. “We try to reflect on the life he lived and not how he died Truly, he died a hero. He died serving the Harris County community…” David Cuevas, president of the Harris County Deputies’ Organization, told KHOU: “He’s as great as they come This is a very trying time, it’s very tough on us, but we’re going to continue to do our jobs ”4. Dhaliwal, a Respected Member of the Force, Leaves Behind a Wife & Children   He was also a husband and a father of three Dhaliwal was in his early 40s, according to KHOU-TV.  The sheriff described him as “a well-liked and respected deputy who was a leader with the department ” “He was a father, I believe of three children. He was a husband, a brother, and a son,” Gonzalez said 5. A Suspect Ambushed Deputy Dhaliwal as the Deputy Walked Back to His Car After a Routine Traffic Stop, Authorities Say   Major Mike Lee of the Houston County Sheriff’s Department said that Deputy Dhaliwal made a “routine traffic stop” on September 27, 2019 “He was shot and has succumbed to his injuries.” Dhaliwal first called dispatch at 12:23 p m. At 12:26, the dispatcher checked in with him, and he updated his situation and said he was fine When Lee arrived at the scene, he looked at the dashcam video. Thus, in a press conference, Lee was able to describe what he saw on it:  “Deputy Dhaliwal had the driver’s door open speaking to the driver… it looked to just be conversational. There was no combat, no arguing. It looked like a routine traffic stop that we conduct every day,” said Lee  He said that the deputy shut the door and began to walk back to his patrol car. Within 3 to 4 seconds, the driver’s door opened The suspect exited the car “almost immediately running with the gun already out and ran up from behind and basically ambushed Deputy Dhaliwal and struck him in the back of the head,” alleged Lee  There was a neighbor a few houses over who was outside doing yardwork. She saw the traffic stop occur but then she heard two gunshots and saw the suspect “running from the scene and get into a getaway car and leave the scene,” Lee said She called 911 and ran over to check on Deputy Dhaliwal. A photo of the suspect was taken from the dashcam video and distributed The suspect was located at a nearby business a quarter mile from the scene. A deputy noticed he looked nervous and put him in custody, Lee said  The weapon was recovered in the same parking lot of that nearby business. “We also have a female in custody that was believed to be the passenger of the car,” Lee said The suspect’s name was not released. Gonzalez also described the shooting as an ambush, saying, “he was on a traffic stop…a male suspect exited the vehicle armed with a pistol and in a cold-blooded manner, ambush-style, shot Deputy Dhaliwal from behind ” KHOU-TV reported that the suspect is a 47-year-old ex-con with an extremely serious past including a conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon He was released in 2014 after serving only 12 years of a 29-year prison sentence, the television station reported He was then accused of drunk driving but a parole board didn’t send him back for prison In 2017, a warrant was issued after he was again accused of violating parole for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend and weapon possession He was still wanted on the warrant at the time of Dhaliwal’s death. This post is being updated as more information is learned about Sandeep Dhaliwal


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