Following a graduation ceremony for new police recruits on Wednesday, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced Sikh police officers will now be allowed to wear turbans and grow out their beards.
“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,” the commissioner said.
The new rule change requires the turbans to be navy blue with the NYPD insignia attached, and beards can be no longer than a half-an-inch long.
Prior to this rule change, Sikh officers were required to fit their turbans underneath their NYPD issued hats, and beards were only allowed to be one millimeter long.
According to the New York Times, the NYPD isn’t the first department in the U.S. to make this change:
The decision puts the nation’s largest police force among a small group of law enforcement agencies like those of Washington, D.C., and Riverside, Calif., as well as the United States Army, that allow members to have facial hair and wear turbans, often as a religious exception.
The Sikh Officers Association praised O’Neill and the department on Twitter, saying this is a “proud moment” for the Sikh community.
— Sikh Officers Assoc. (@SikhOfficers) December 28, 2016
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