Relaxing its very stringent uniform police, the New York Police Department has now decided to allow Sikh officers to wear turbans and grow beards in order to promote inclusiveness in the force.
Under the new policy, Sikh officers will be allowed to grow beards up to one-and-a-half inches. They will also be allowed to wear turbans with hat shields affixed to it in place of police caps and small turbans. The officers were earlier allowed beards only up to a millimetre.
“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,” said New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill.
The commissioner said the move will help expand the number of Sikh officers in the force. Currently, 160 Sikh police officers are serving in the NYPD. He said he the department had been working on this with the Sikh Officers.
“We want to make the NYPD as diverse as possible,” he added.
Sikh Officers Association welcomed the move, calling it a proud moment for the Sikh community.
The new policy comes after a Muslim policeman filed a complaint against New York police last summer when he was suspended for wearing a beard that did not comply with regulations.
But the policeman, Masood Syed, says the new policy falls short. He wants officers to be allowed to grow beards up to two inches long, CNN reported.
A Sikh advocacy group, The Sikh Coalition said it would review the department’s policy to see if it offers a “complete fix”.
“We look forward to reviewing the written policy before determining whether this is a complete fix, but we’re hopeful about what this announcement represents in the way of progress.
“The Sikh Coalition is communicating directly with the NYPD and New York City officials as we seek a copy of the written policy, and we continue to work closely with the public officials,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.