Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan paid tribute to Sandeep Dhaliwal, the first observant Sikh to become a sheriff’s deputy in Harris County, Texas, who was killed Friday.
Dhaliwal, 42, had been with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, was married and had three children.
During a routine traffic stop shortly after noon, the driver of the car pulled over by Dhaliwal jumped out and shot the deputy after he’d turned to return to his own car. Robert Solis, 47, was arrested within hours and charged with capital murder.
In 2015, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office changed its policy to allow Dhaliwal to wear the traditional Sikh turban and facial hair while on patrol.
“On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, I want to extend our deepest condolences and gratitude to the family and friends of Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal,” McAleenan said in a statement this evening.
“Deputy Sheriff Dhaliwal was a pioneer on the front lines of law enforcement as the first in his department to wear a turban and beard in police uniform, proudly representing both his Sikh faith and the Houston community,” McAleenan said. “His sacrifice is a reminder of the brave men and women in law enforcement who put themselves at risk to protect their neighbors and communities each and every day.”
A candlelight vigil was held this evening in Houston to remember Dhaliwal.