Information provided by Northfield Police Department.
The men and women of the Northfield Police Department participated in cultural sensitivity training on October 3 - 4, 2012. The training was held at the Northfield Village Hall and was coordinated with the Department of Justice, Community Relations Services Division.
Meg Gorecki, Regional Director, Community Relations Service, U.S. Dept of Justice, moderated the training, which included two partners from the Muslim and Sikh communities. The training, titled Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Program, brings law enforcement and government officials together with Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities to foster mutual understanding and enhance the capacity of law enforcement and governmental officials to effectively engage with these communities.
“This training is pertinent and timely”, Northfield Police Chief Bill Lustig said. “One simply has to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news”, he said, referring to the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and the rising tensions in Muslim communities across the world.
The two-day training was highlighted by two community leaders who shared historical views and personal stories about their culture. Dr. Tahera Ahmad, Associate University Chaplain, Northwestern University, presented the Muslim Culture and Islam 101. Dr. Ahmad grew up in Morton Grove and played basketball at Niles West. Dr. Ahmad shared personal stories about her struggles growing up wearing a Hijab, a cloth veil that covers the hair and neck. Dr. Ahmad studied at IBC, Northwestern, Hartford Seminary, and in Egypt. She was the focus of a PBS special “The Calling”.
The other community leader and presenter was Dr. Balwant Singh Hansra, Palatine, who presented the Sikh Culture and Sikhism 101. Dr. Hansra obtained two college degrees in India, and then came to the United States in 1959, where he obtained 3 additional Masters Degree and a PhD degree. Before retiring, Dr. Hansra taught more than 35 years at YMCA Colleges and the Daley City College. Dr. Hansra serves as the President of the Sikh Religious Society and helped establish the Sikh Gurdwaras (places of worship) in Chicago and Palatine.
“Our officers learned a historical perspective and a personal perspective from Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Hansra. We learned about the five articles of faith and what implications that could have on law enforcement interactions with the Sikh community. We learned about houses of worship, prayer schedules, and symbolic characteristics of the cultures”, Chief Lustig said.
Chief Lustig summarized: “This was a dynamic learning opportunity for all of the participants. This training provided a forum for engagement and learning in a proactive manner”.
Also attending were police officers from Winnetka, Glenview, Lake Bluff, and Addison.