Sikh officers working for the New York Police Department (NYPD) will now be allowed to wear their turbans in place of the traditional police cap while on duty and they will also be allowed to grow their beards up to a half-inch long for religious purposes.
NYPD commissioner James O’Neill announced the policy change on Wednesday:
“We want to make the NYPD as diverse as possible, and I think this is going to go a long way to help us with that.”
The turban that is mainly worn by Sikh men represents honour and it is worn to take care of their hair, promote equality, and preserve the Sikh identity. This new policy is a huge step for the Sikh community, and it will allow many more Sikh men to take the exam and join the New York police force.
O’Neill also stated that the NYPD currently has 160 Sikhs serving the department and this new policy will make it an inclusive environment for them. Before this policy, Sikh officers had to wear a smaller wrap called a ‘patka’ under the traditional standard police cap. Officers will first require approval and the turbans must be navy blue and will have to have the NYPD badge attached to it.
“This is a proud moment for Sikh community,” the Sikh Officers Association tweeted in response to the policy change.
— Sikh Officers Assoc. (@SikhOfficers) December 28, 2016