The Arab American News

New York Police Department to allow Muslim and Sikh officers to wear longer beards, turbans
| Friday, 12.30.2016, 08:25 PM |

NEW YORK-On Wednesday, the New York Police Department said that it would allow Sikh and Muslim officers to grow beards up to 1.27 cm long, as religious exception, in an effort to recruit more minorities.
After a graduation ceremony for 557 police recruits, Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced the policy and added that Turbans will be allowed.
O'Neill said Sikh officers will be permitted to wear turbans instead of the customary police cap, but would need approval first.
The turban would have to be navy blue with an attached NYPD badge.
"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," O'Neill said, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported that out of 557 recruits, 33 are Muslims and two are Sikhs.
Formerly, officers were banned from having beards, although an unrecorded rule allowed them to grow beards up to one millimeter in length. 
At the time, NYPD prohibited beards because they impede with some gas masks.
However, the department changed their policy because of a legal case by a Muslim officer.  
Officer Masood Syed, an authorized clerk in the NYPD, said the policy was unconstitutional. He was ordered by administrators to shorten his beard after wearing one for years, religiously, but was suspended for not complying.
In June, the department brought back Syed and decided to review its policy.