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Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim and Sikh Americans

A photo of a Muslim family.


Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim Americans and Engaging and Building Partnerships with Sikh Americans are three-hour, in-person trainings designed to increase community awareness and build relationships between law enforcement, government officials, and Muslim and Sikh American communities. The trainings also help participants create an action plan to strengthen engagement with their local Muslim and Sikh American communities.

In these trainings, participants learn about the beliefs, practices, customs, and cultural aspects of Muslim and Sikh Americans. The trainings define key terms, highlight hate crime trends and their impacts on the Muslim and Sikh American communities, recommend appropriate language and conduct when engaging with members of these communities, and provide best practices for engaging Muslim and Sikh communities and individuals.

Training Goals

  • Speak with and about the Muslim- and Sikh-American communities in a way that improves communication and enhances public safety for those communities
  • Increase public awareness of civil rights-related issues that impact the Muslim- and Sikh-American communities
  • Identify misconceptions that impact the prevention of and response to hate crimes
  • Use recommended tools, processes, and best practices to increase communication and collaboration with the Muslim- and Sikh-American communities and jointly develop a community outreach plan

Training Overview

  • The Importance of Community Awareness
    Community awareness is the first step in effective community engagement. This lesson explains why learning about other communities is critical for successful community engagement and describes the issues impacting Muslim Americans or Sikh Americans.
  • Building Awareness and Understanding
    This lesson talks about the faith and practices of the Muslim-American community or the Sikh-American community and explains how those practices and beliefs influence their daily interactions. It also provides tips for how to interact with community members in a way that avoids misunderstandings and stereotyping.
  • Planning Community Engagement
    This lesson identifies community engagement strategies that advance best practices on how to cultivate and further relations with Muslim Americans or Sikh Americans and highlights the benefits of creating partnerships between law enforcement, public officials, and the Muslim-American or Sikh-American community.

Case Highlights

In January 2019, the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organization that works to protect the rights of Sikhs and other religious minorities, requested CRS services due to perceptions of bias against the Sikh community by the local law enforcement officials regarding procedures for visitors to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, which includes Liberty Island and Ellis Island in New York. Practicing Sikhs carry kirpans, a small sword that is a Sikh article of faith. Security permits kirpans on Ellis Island, but not on Liberty Island, resulting at times in confusion.

CRS initially met with leaders from the Sikh Coalition and local law enforcement in July 2019 to facilitate a dialogue around the security procedures and the concerns of the Sikh community. At the meeting, local law enforcement officials explained that additional security at Liberty Island is necessary to ensure the safety of visitors and protect the monument. CRS shared information about its training for law enforcement on the customs and cultural aspects of the Sikh American community. The local law enforcement officials requested the training, entitled Engaging and Building Partnerships with Sikh Americans, for its officers as a way to improve relations with Sikh park visitors.

From October 29 through November 1, 2019, CRS facilitated eight sessions of the training program for approximately 100 security personnel who work to secure the ferry terminals in both New York and New Jersey that visitors take to reach Liberty Island. Evaluations after each session showed that 96% of respondents found the training to be a worthwhile use of time, with 100% agreeing that the training enhanced their knowledge of the Sikh community.

In early FY 2020, a group of law enforcement leaders requested that CRS conduct the Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim Americans training program during a session at an annual conference for campus law enforcement officials. Law enforcement officials felt their state and local officers would benefit from the CRS training due, in part, to the local Muslim population’s growth, recent cases of mistaken identity, and misunderstandings about Muslim religious beliefs.

In December 2019, CRS and a subject matter expert delivered the training at the conference in The Woodlands, Texas, for approximately 50 police chiefs and assistant police chiefs from colleges and universities across Texas.

The training provided the police officers with a better understanding of Muslim religious beliefs and culture, increased awareness of civil rights related issues that impact Muslim Americans, and tools and best practices for engaging with the community. At the conclusion of the training, officers developed plans to conduct outreach to Muslim communities in their jurisdictions to improve interactions, build partnerships, and increase public trust.

More Information

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim Americans  (PDF)

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Sikh Americans  (PDF)

Additional Resources and Informational Videos

Updated January 2, 2024