The New York Police Department (NYPD) has come up with new rules allowing Sikh police officers to wear turbans instead of traditional police hats, officials said. Sikh officers have until now worn turbans under their caps.
New York Police commissioner James O’Neill announced the measures being taken towards ensuring religious accommodation to its officers following a graduation ceremony for new police recruits yesterday.
Under the revised policy, officers from the Sikh faith will be allowed to have beards that extend up to one-half inch from the face. The NYPD has said the turbans must be navy blue and have the NYPD insignia attached.
O'Neill said the change was to encourage religious members of the community to apply "to work in the greatest police department in the nation".
"We changed our beard policy and our head covering policy. It is a major change in our uniform policy, so we had to go about it carefully,” he said, as quoted in a New York Post report.
The Commissioner said there are about 160 Sikh officers currently in the ranks and he was looking to expand those numbers. He said the religious accommodation will give people from the faith the opportunity to join the police department.
Sikh advocacy group Sikh Coalition welcomed the move, saying it will send a strong message that there should be no discrimination against members of the community, which has contributed significantly to the city and the country.