â€˜SALDEF has served as a bridge between FBI personnel and Sikh Americansâ€™
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) has won the 2021 FBI Directorâ€™s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) for the Washington Field Office (WFO).
SALDEF Executive Director Kiran Kaur Gill and Program Director Sharan Singh accepted this yearâ€™s award on SALDEFâ€™s behalf from Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. Dâ€™Antuono on June 27.
SALDEF, a Sikh American education, media, and policy nonprofit, supports Sikh Americans by building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom.
Throughout 2021, FBI WFO personnel and SALDEF representatives worked together to cultivate relationships between federal agents and Sikh Americans, according to a WFO press release.
â€œThe FBI and SALDEF have different functions, but we share a common goal: protecting the lives and liberties of the American people,â€ Dâ€™Antuono said.
â€œSALDEF 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.â€
From Dec 2020 to Dec 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, the release said.
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 Sikh Americans.
â€œThe better we know our communities, the better we can serve them,â€ Dâ€™Antuono said. â€œCultural 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.â€
SALDEF began bringing together law enforcement personnel and local communities through its Law Enforcement Partnership Program in 1999.
SALDEF representatives have partnered with organizations throughout the country and trained more than 100,000 federal agents and local officers about best practices in cultural awareness and community relations, the release noted.
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 womenâ€™s rights, it said.
Since 1990, FBI offices have nominated one individual or organization for an FBI DCLA in recognition of the nomineeâ€™s contributions to the prevention of crime in their communities, the release said.