Sikh-American organisation SALDEF named recipient of 2021 FBI community leadership award

Published on Jun 30, 2022 01:05 AM IST
SALDEF is a Sikh American education, media, and policy non-profit that supports Sikh Americans by “building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom”
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ByPress Trust of India, New York

A Sikh-American education and policy non-profit organisation has been named recipient of a 2021 FBI community leadership award.

In a statement, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Steven M D’Antuono said that the Sikh-American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF) has been named recipient of the 2021 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) for the Washington Field Office (WFO).

“The FBI and SALDEF have different functions, but we share a common goal: protecting the lives and liberties of the American people,” D’Antuono said.

“SALDEF has served as a bridge between FBI personnel and Sikh Americans, helping us learn more about the people we serve and helping them learn more about the work we do to safeguard their community,” he said

SALDEF executive director Kiran Kaur Gill and program director Sharan Singh accepted this year’s award on SALDEF’s behalf this week.

“SALDEF is honoured to receive this award and we remain committed to serving as a resource and voice for the Sikh American community on policy issues that affect not only Sikh Americans but all Americans,” the organisation tweeted.

SALDEF is a Sikh American education, media, and policy non-profit. The statement said the organisation supports Sikh Americans by “building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom.”

The statement added that throughout 2021, FBI WFO personnel and SALDEF representatives worked together to cultivate relationships between federal agents and Sikh Americans.

From December 2020 to December 2021, SALDEF representatives participated in multiple FBI WFO Cultural Engagement Councils, which led to valuable feedback regarding interactions between law enforcement personnel and Sikh Americans. As a result, SALDEF held a presentation about Sikh American culture and history for dozens of FBI personnel and cited best practices for interacting with them.

“The better we know our communities, the better we can serve them,” D’Antuono said.

“Cultural awareness training is crucial because it helps the FBI build trusting relationships with the public. The people in our communities need to know they can count on us to protect them,” it said.

“SALDEF began bringing together law enforcement personnel and local communities through its Law Enforcement Partnership Program in 1999. SALDEF representatives have partnered with organisations throughout the country and trained more than 100,000 federal agents and local officers about best practices in cultural awareness and community relations,” the statement said.

“SALDEF serves as a resource and voice for the Sikh American community on policy issues that affect not only Sikh Americans but all Americans, including employment discrimination, racial profiling, school bullying, voting rights, and women’s rights,” it added.

Since 1990, FBI offices have nominated one individual or organisation for an FBI DCLA in recognition of the nominee’s contributions to the prevention of crime in their communities.

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