Thursday, December 29, 2016
NYPD officers will be allowed to wear turbans and grow beards for the first time in bid to accommodate Sikh recruits
The New York Police Department is now allowing officers to wear beards and grow turbans in a bid to accommodate Sikh recruits.
Sikh officers will be allowed to wear turbans in place of the traditional police cap and grow beards up to a half-inch long, which are required for religious reasons.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced the new rules that affect all religious members on Wednesday following a graduation ceremony for new police recruits.
Officers must first get approval and the turbans must be navy blue and have the NYPD insignia attached.
Male observant Sikhs often cover their heads with turbans — which are considered sacred — and refrain from shaving their beards.
Before, Sikh officers had to fit their turbans under their department issued cap. Beards were forbidden because they interfered with wearing gas masks.
Those who had a medical or religious exemption could wear facial hair only up to one millimeter in length.
O'Neil said there are about 160 Sikhs serving in the police department.
'We're making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work in the greatest police department in the nation, to make sure we give them that opportunity,' he added.
The move will also apply to Muslim recruits. Muslim women in the NYPD have been allowed to wear a hijab for several years.
At the Police Academy graduation ceremony, of the 557 recruits 33 were Muslim and two Sikh.
The Sikh Officers Association welcomed the move as 'a proud moment for [the] Sikh community'.
The new policy comes just months after a Muslim officer brought a legal case saying restrictions on beard length were unconstitutional.
Masood Syed, a legal clerk in the NYPD who had worn a beard for years for religious reasons was told by his supervisors to shorten it.
When he refused he was suspended, but NYPD reinstated Syed in June and the department agreed to review its policies.
Syed's case follows a similar challenge brought by a Hasidic Jewish probationary officer in 2013, who won a case against the department over the same policy.
Comments: Post a Comment