Deputy’s hopeful legacy
For many of us, hateful words and acts of prejudice from another person are where the conversation ends.
For Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, they are where the conversation began.
Back in 2008, when a Sikh family accused Harris County deputies of handcuffing them, roughing them up and even likening them to terrorists while responding to the family’s 911 call about a burglary, then-Sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia seized on the teachable moment.
He met with members of the Sikh community, pledging diversity training when he took over as sheriff, but also asking people of the Sikh faith to consider serving in law enforcement.
Dhaliwal answered the call. Sikhism, the world’s fifth-largest religion, is a monotheistic faith centered around equality, service and justice — ideals Dhaliwal believed were vital to police service. He worked his way up from detention officer to deputy, even earning a bit of celebrity in 2015 after persuading the sheriff’s department to make religious accommodations in its dress code that allowed him to grow out his beard and wear a Sikh turban, among the articles of faith kept by men and women that distinguish observant Sikhs.
Locally and nationally, he became a “walking lesson in tolerance and understanding,” as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called him. A “trailblazer” and a “hero,” as Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Not everyone agreed with the dress code change, though. Alan Bernstein, who handled communications for the agency at the time, said half the emails from the public seemed supportive and the other half were opposed. One went so far as to say he’d never “pull over for that terrorist,” Bernstein recalls.
The danger, the controversy, the constant looks of suspicion and curiosity didn’t stop Dhaliwal. Indeed, they seemed part of what inspired his mission to educate people about the Sikh faith as he went about his law enforcement duties. ...
Dhaliwal, a 42-year-old married father of three, was shot to death during a routine traffic stop, allegedly ambush-style by a man later discovered to be a felon with a lengthy criminal record.
People across the area have poured their sorrow into social media posts full of stories, pictures and videos of the deputy who called most everyone friend.
One story tells of Dhaliwal encouraging a 4-year-old boy who wanted to become a police officer to “follow his dreams.” A video shows the deputy playfully letting a young deaf boy handcuff him at a restaurant. Another shows him after Hurricane Harvey coordinating a couple dozen truckloads of donations from the Sikh community for first-responders and Houston schoolchildren. ...
As much as Dhaliwal’s tragic death is a reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face daily to keep us safe, it’s also a reminder of Dhaliwal’s hopeful legacy.
He was the embodiment of the values that bind us ...
A good man is gone from this world, but his lessons live on in those whose lives he touched and those who know his story.
Getting set for next time
The Dallas Morning News
When Dallas lost out on its bid to become at least half of Amazon’s HQ2, it represented a setback for the region, but it also created an opportunity.
We could learn from what we lacked and prepare for a future where the world’s biggest and most dynamic companies cannot afford to say no to what our city and our region have to offer.
Dallas has learned this lesson before. When Boeing selected Chicago over us in 2001, it marked a moment when Dallas had to face the fact it didn’t have the cultural amenities nor the vibrant downtown Chicago offered.
Look at us since then. Downtown is transformed. People populate its streets night and day. Gorgeous new parks have bloomed from parking lots. The Arts District is among the finest in any city in America. We answered the challenge.
The challenge presented by Amazon’s rejection was different, and in certain ways, more daunting.
Despite our wealth and growth, we simply do not have the workforce that major technology companies need. The truth is most cities off the coasts, absent our own capital, don’t have that either. ...
But Dallas and the state have taken a valuable step forward.
Community colleges in Dallas County and elsewhere in Texas will work with Amazon Web Services to create a new degree program that will prepare students for careers in cloud computing. ...
Having a well-trained and ready workforce means the next time Amazon or another major tech company comes knocking, we will be ready.