New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, but NYPD rules prevent its officers from wearing beards or head coverings required for religious reasons. This forces Sikhs and members of other faiths to choose between serving in the NYPD and honoring their religious beliefs. They shouldn't have to make that choice.
In the wake of the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., now is the time for us to show that New York City fully embraces the Sikh community. A change allowing NYPD officers to openly wear religious head coverings and full beards would accomplish that goal and show that New York City deserves its reputation as a global capital of religious acceptance.
Change NYPD rules to allow for full beards and religious headgear such as turbans
Thank you for the words of support and comfort offered to the Sikh community in the wake of the horrific shootings in Wisconsin and for increasing NYPD security around New York City’s gurdwaras.
The attack in Wisconsin reminds us that intolerance still rears its ugly head today. Sikhs have felt alienation and distress over the past decade since September 11. In the wake of the Wisconsin killings, which have shocked the national conscience, our City can enact meaningful inclusion of this community by changing NYPD rules to allow Sikhs to serve without having to forsake their turbans and beards.
These outward signs of religious observance are for Sikhs articles of faith. Sikh community groups have long fought to secure officers the right to wear them while proudly serving New York City.
There is precedent for such a move. The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department recently amended its rules to allow Sikhs to wear religious garb while serving as full-time law enforcement officers.
In New York City, the MTA recently dropped its requirement that Sikh employees affix their turbans with the MTA logo. In 2004, the NYPD reinstated two Sikh traffic enforcement agents, allowing them to wear turbans and full beards. And the City Council last year passed a law enhancing religious freedom in the workplace, aimed, among other things, at making it easier for officers to challenge the NYPD’s turban/beard ban.
Reforming the NYPD policy on religious garb would also benefit individuals of other faith groups who wear head coverings and grow their beards as required by their religion.
Shouldn’t the NYPD, providing security in one of the most diverse cities in the world, proudly display its own diversity?