First Sikh Officer to Walk the Beat

Dalson Chen, Windsor Star, December 14, 2007

The city’s first Sikh cop has sworn his oaths for the Windsor Police Service.

An Indian immigrant, 32-year-old Surjeet Singh Gill was one of 10 new constables who joined the force in a ceremony at the Ontario Court of Justice building Thursday.

“I feel on top of the world right now that I’m representing my community,” Gill said.

“I will do anything I can to help more people from my community, since Windsor is the fourth most diverse city in the country. And I think Windsor police needs more people from minority groups, so they can represent their own communities.”

Gill said he arrived in Windsor just three years ago to join his wife, who is a Canadian citizen.

FORMER COP

“I was a police officer in India, and I was born and raised in a family of police officers,” he said. “Ever since I came here, I had it in my mind that I would go for it one day. . . . By the grace of God, I got into the Windsor Police Service, and I’m proud to be a part of this organization.”

The other officers who received their badges were: Heather McPhee, Bradley Snyder, Leah McFadden, Albert Frederick, Robert Brisco, Mark Kloppenburg, Warren Braganza, Fady Feghali and Issaam Mohamad Salame.

Salame, a 24-year-old native of Saudi Arabia, said it’s important for him to reach out to Windsor’s Muslim community, but also every community in the city, “whether Muslim, Catholic, Christian, Jewish.”

Salame said he’s not aware of many Muslim officers in Windsor, and he hopes his presence will encourage more Muslims to join.

“We can use them. We can use people of all cultures, religions, shapes and sizes,” Salame said. “Sometimes people sit back and say, ‘Oh, I won’t get hired because I’m Arabic, or I won’t get hired because I’m Muslim.’ People assume that Windsor police only hire the white male, and it’s clearly not true. If you look at our group alone, it’s very diverse. If you’re willing to come forward, if you’re willing to work hard, Windsor will take that into consideration.”

Chief Glenn Stannard congratulated the newest additions to the Windsor Police Service. Although he warned of “rough waters ahead” as a part of their job, he emphasized that each officer is embarking on an “awesome journey.”

“It’s an opportunity for you, as an individual, to make a positive difference in your community,” Stannard said.

Stannard told recruits to tune their personal car radios to local news stations, in order to keep in touch with the issues and events of their community. “No more hip hop or rap or whatever it is on your way to work,” he said with a smile.

STANNARD’S LAST CEREMONY

The swearing in ceremony was the last one that Stannard will oversee as chief. He will retire in February after almost 38 years on the force.

Stannard, 58, estimated he’s seen at least two dozen classes of recruits since he became chief in 1999.

Asked for the most important piece of advice he could give to new officers, Stannard replied: “To never lose that sense of compassion and respect for others as you go about your job. Treat others as you want to be treated. . . . It just comes better that way.”

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