A community’s policing system is the backbone of its public safety. Behind the comfort of citizens who soundly sleep at home are police officers who work tirelessly and passionately to prevent crime, provide support services, and earn public trust. In the multicultural fabric of the Lower Mainland, a brave community gem who is not only protecting the community, but also bringing it immense pride, is Delta Police Department’s (DPD) Constable Jessy Sahota.
Jessy Sahota is a winner of the 2022 International Association of Chiefs of Police 40 Under 40 Award, which recognizes 40 law enforcement professionals under the age of 40 from around the world that demonstrate leadership and exemplify commitment to their profession. What’s more is that Sahota’s strength isn’t limited to just his professional endeavors with policing. The 3x National Canada Wrestling champion is also a reputed wrestling and kabaddi legend.
Sahota graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminology in 2015. He was a scholarship athlete at SFU and also won a national wrestling title during his university career. Sahota’s journey into the world of kabaddi began in 2014, when he was encouraged to try kabaddi by his friends and family; he found immediate success in the sport due to his honed prowess in wrestling. Since then, he has represented Canada multiple times at international tournaments and has even won the prestigious Kabaddi World Cup in 2016. An 8x Team Canada athlete for Kabaddi, Sahota’s unique playing style earned him quick prominence in the sport.
Sahota’s involvement in the sport extends beyond his personal training and victories. Sahota is the Founder and Volunteer Head Coach of Tamanawis Secondary Wrestling, who are reigning 3x provincial champions and are credited to be the Best High School Wrestling Team in Canada. Alumni of Tamanawis Secondary, Sahota and his brother, Pola Sahota, after their graduation from the school, noticed that the high school was getting an unfair negative reputation. More so, they noticed that students were buying into that destructive persona, straying away from all the awesome things that the school had to offer. In 2016, the brothers decided to connect with their former high school and start a wrestling program as a way of giving back in their own small way.
The duo was fortunate to have the immediate support of the school. The overall administration, District Director Rob Rai, and Joe Calendino, who is the founder of Yo Bro Yo Girl Youth Initiative, were all pillars of support. What’s noteworthy is that Sahota has over 13 years of volunteering experience with Yo Boy Yo Girl, having documented over 4,000 volunteer hours. As such, garnering resources was not an issue for the well-intentioned siblings because the two had earned the trust and commitment of very kind and supportive people through all their community endeavors.
Although difficulties still come in the way sometimes, the Sahotas believe that anything worth doing is going to come with its handful of challenges. For the brothers, these speedbumps are expected and the two prepare accordingly. For example, some students cannot afford wrestling shoes or tournament fees, in which case Sahota says that community members never turn down an opportunity to provide support.
Sahota details, “Support from the community has exceeded my expectations. Hardworking community members have offered us donations, supplies, and even their own time. The team’s success has had a ripple effect, in which younger students are excited to join the team and older graduated alumni are eagerly coming back to help. The collective effort has given a lot of kids opportunity and hope, which otherwise would not have existed.”
The most rewarding part of this experience for Sahota has been seeing young children become better versions of themselves. The proud coach has seen shy, timid kids evolve into confident, standout adults. Sahota’s social media often features the most heartfelt thank you cards from young athletes. These cards are usually handmade and have beautiful handwritten messages attached to them. “I will forever cherish these cute cards; they mean the world to me!”, touchingly says Sahota.
When it comes to promoting sports, Sahota says that the onus also falls on the larger community and influencers. Living in a profit-driven society, leaders and celebrities often promote whatever sells. However, Sahota reminds the community that what is popular is not necessarily good. He asserts that there is a need to promote things that are inherently good even if they do not make profit and are difficult to do. Moreover, for parents who may be hesitant to push their kids into sports, especially in fear of their studies being impacted, Sahota’s message is straightforward, “Studying allows you to become a smart human being. Sports allow you to become a great human being. If you withhold your child from sports, you are doing them a great disservice.”
Reflecting on his own schooling days, Sahota reminisces how, in addition to sports, he had also always admired the police from a young age; it was a profession that always intrigued him. With time, he was even more drawn to law enforcement. By the time he was in high school, Sahota wholeheartedly knew that he wanted to become a police officer. Given that he did not have any friends or family in the police force, Sahota had a lot of learning and growing to do on his own. In hindsight, he sees the extra efforts and sacrifices to accomplish his career goal as well worth it because the job is very rewarding.
Sahota elaborates, “Policing is a job like no other. It is the only occupation where every shift you will be put in harm's way, but you are also guaranteed to help someone in a meaningful way. You have to be ready at any given second to react in an appropriate and accurate manner. As hard as that sounds, the job is extremely enjoyable. Seeing small wins within your community that are related to your work is very motivating and satisfying.”
Having been part of the DPD since 2017, Sahota ’s stance is that a police officer's sole goal is to make their community safer and better, but this responsibility extends beyond the uniform and to the general public as well. He has observed that if the police and the community have a strong relationship and open communication, it benefits everyone. Recognized as City of Delta’s Top 20 Young Leaders this year, Sahota has made it his aim to be approachable and welcoming to the people he serves because it will allow a strong partnership to emerge. In his opinion, members of the community can work alongside the police service with a joint goal and responsibility of making their neighborhoods safer. As Sahota puts it, “Individually, we can accomplish some results, but together we can achieve great results.”
Despite his countless accomplishments and proactive community work, to be nominated for the International Association of Chiefs of Police 40 Under 40 Award came as a shock for Sahota. Considering that he works alongside so many amazing men and women, to be chosen amongst them was a special honor for DPD’s Youth Liaison Officer. To have the nomination be successful was a completely surreal feeling that the humble policeman did not foresee it at all.
Sahota shares the credit with many other officers and community partners who assisted him in achieving the honor, “None of this would be possible without the assistance of my co-workers at Delta Police, The Delta School District, and Yo Bro, Yo Girl Youth Initiative. With their assistance, we were able to provide many youth the opportunity to build healthy and strong connections with positive role models while engaging in healthy activities.”
Just like Sahota, his family was quite shocked to learn of the international award for policing. Sahota’s parents were accustomed to their son’s success on the sports field, so this was a pleasant surprise. Sahota’s mother, Harjinder Sahota, and father, Pala Sahota, have always encouraged their children and told them that hard work never goes unnoticed. Jessy also mentions his gratitude for his wife, Ikjot Sandhu, who has given him unconditional guidance and care, being by his side for all his challenges and successes.
Recently, Sahota’s passion for policing and wrestling came together with his win in the 2022 World Police & Fire Games held in the Netherlands. Already having been the World Police & Fire Games 125kg Heavyweight Wrestling Gold Medalist in China in 2019, he trained extremely hard for this year’s games, with about 12 sessions a week as he was the defending heavyweight champion from the 2019 China Games. The trip was a total success, with Sahota being able to capture double gold once again. It was a tough competition with over 10,000 athletes participating from over 70 different countries. That said, the hard work was totally worth it for Sahota, especially in light of his warm welcome by friends and family upon his arrival back home. A large party was held in his honor and he received numerous community awards.
A role model himself, Sahota describes the role models that he himself looks up to, “This sounds very cliché, but I am a man of faith and I do draw my inspiration and strength from the higher powers. I am always learning about significant figures in Sikhi such as our Guru Jis, Banda Singh Bahadur, Hari Singh Nalwa, Baba Deep Singh, and others. I am also interested in learning about other religions and cultures; I have taken multiple religious study classes. I believe a greater power has always held my hand in times of need and for that I am forever grateful.”
Sahota’s mantra for success is simple: honest, hard work trumps everything. The spirited constable and disciplined sportsman believes that if you sweat more than the competition, you will succeed; the more hours you put in, the more successful you will become. Contrary to every motivation guru, Sahota does not plan his life too far ahead. He takes everything one day at a time. However, he does consciously try his best to give 110% everyday. Undoubtedly, his accomplishments speak volumes about his sheer passion, utmost dedication, and persistent strength. With our future in capable hands like that of Sahota’s, it is not at all an understatement that with local heroes like him, our communities can fearlessly wrestle through any obstacles to stir positive global change.