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Tarlochan Sohal- Reserve Police Officer of Livingston City Police, California


NRI Tarlochan Sohal was hired as a volunteer by the Livingston Police

US-born Punjabi youngsters
taking to drugs, says expert
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Sep. 16, 2005

A large number of the US-born Punjabi youngsters are falling prey to killer drugs like cocaine, smack and marijuana as soon as they graduate to high schools.

What is more shocking is that the Punjabi community in general is neither much aware of the seriousness of the problem nor is it doing anything tangible to curb the abuse of drugs. Mostly, the Punjabi community is not even aware that their innocent-looking school-going kids are deeply into drug addiction. This revelation was made by Mr Tarlochan Sohal, the Reserve Police Officer working with the Livingston City Police Department.

He claimed to be the lone Punjabi police officer in entire Merced County of California state. Of 2.5 lakh people of the county, nearly 10 per cent or 25000 were Punjabis. Interestingly, the entire county had the lowest police-public ratio. There was one cop for 15000 residents, he said.

“I feel pained to tell you that roughly about 10 per cent US-born Punjabi youngsters, particularly in California, are hooked to drugs. The reasons for drug-addiction are mainly frustration, lack of inspiration and deprivation from cultural roots. But I am more concerned about what I would say is the sheer indifference of Punjabi people towards this serious problem. They are hardly doing anything to save their wards from falling prey to drugs,” he said during a chat with Jalandhar Plus.

Domestic violence, according to Mr Sohal, was another malady which afflicted the Punjabi society there. Reporting to police about this social problem was almost negligible.

Referring to the crime situation in California, he made an interesting revelation that incidents of hate crime against Asians were on the rise and so were the cases of burglaries. “In fact, about 10 per cent of Americans are intolerant towards Asians to an extent. There has been four to five per cent increase in crime in California during the past two years,” said Mr Sohal, who belonged to Athola village here and had migrated to the US in 1986 after saying goodbye to his job with the Punjab police.

He had to work hard and improve his educational qualifications in the foreign land. He was appointed as a Reserve Police Officer by Livingston City Police Chief two years back. “The only difference between regular police officers and us is that we are free to fix our duty schedule.”

He said despite his being the lone Punjab-born officer in the Livingston Police Department, he had never faced any discrimination on any account. “No question of that. The police department there is so professional that there is no scope for any kind of discrimination or indifference towards anyone. Everyone has to be very alert when on duty. Those found misusing the positions on or off duty are taken to task,” he added.