Hayward - New Hayward police Officer Jujhar Singh marched with his fellow Alameda County sheriff's academy graduates on Monday. He's the only one wearing and turban and not a hat.
"I have a turban and a beard. I've always had a turban, I've never cut my hair," said Singh, 23.
Singh has become the first Indian Sikh police officer in Alameda County who wears a turban. He’s now proudly wearing an article of his faith, along with a badge.
"It feels great. It's a dream come true," Singh told KTVU.
Singh says he and his family are proud to be Sikh. It's part of who he is and part of his upbringing. He says he knows the public might not be used to seeing an officer who looks like him.
"They might even have questions about the turban, or some people may not know who I am or where I came from, and that'll be an opportunity for me to introduce myself to them," Singh said.
Singh and five newly-minted Hayward officers are among 54 graduates of the 167th Alameda County Sheriff's Academy. The six will hit the streets of Hayward in a couple of weeks as part of field training.
At the grueling 28-week academy, Singh was just another recruit.
"He got the same special treatment everybody else got - not a whole lot of special treatment," said sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly
The officer's journey began 13 years ago at the 76 gas station that his father Bhupinder Singh still owns at Mission and Tennyson in Hayward.
"I'm really happy. I'm very proud of him," the elder Singh said.
It was there that 10-year-old Singh met then-Hayward police Capt. Darryl McAllister, who had stopped to get a cold drink.
"He always came here and got a drink ," Bhupinder Singh said. "And my son, the older one, the police officer, he started talking to him."
With a smile, Officer Singh said, "He gave me a junior officer police badge - a sticker. So I felt that was the coolest thing ever."
McAllister had planted a seed in that little boy, which should come as no surprise, as McAllister stops to talk to kids all the time.
Years later, Singh became a cadet with the Union City police, where McAllister later served as chief.
"He's always answered my questions," Officer Singh said. "He's been my personal mentor."
Hayward police Chief Toney Chaplin said he didn't think twice about hiring Singh.
"We hired him because he's a great candidate. He did everything that every other candidate has to do to get the position. He just happens to wear a turban," Chaplin said.
There have been other Sikh officers in the Bay Area, but Officer Singh said he hopes that in 10 or 15 years, having a turbaned officer will be just the norm.