Insp. Baltej Singh Dhillon retires from the The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian federal and national police force, after nearly 30 years. He holds the distinction of being the first officer to wear a turban as part of the RCMP uniform.
The 53-year old officer retires after a career that saw him rise to the rank of inspector, as he took part in high-profile cases, including the investigations into serial killer Robert Pickton and the Air India bombing.
“When I first got involved in the Air India task force, I wasn’t trusted. I wasn’t included in some of the meetings,” he told CBC in an interview. “I was told that it was because there was concern that I might compromise the file.”
That mistrust is something Dhillon experienced before he ever donned the red tunic.
Born in Malaysia, a teenage Dhillion and his family moved to British Columbia in 1983. After high school, he studied criminology and initially wanted to be a lawyer. But he sought to become a Mountie after volunteering with the RCMP as a translator for Asian immigrants.
Dhillon formally applied to the force in 1988 and passed all the entrance requirements. But at the time, the RCMP dress code banned both turbans and beards — key components of his Sikh faith.
See full story, ‘As he readies for new role, 1st Mountie to wear turban reflects on RCMP career’ (CBC, 5 Aug 2019), here.
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