New York to allow Sikh NYPD officers to wear turbans on duty and makes facial hair allowances

Around 160 Sikhs serve in the force 

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The Independent US

Sikh officers in the New York Police Department (NYPD) will now be allowed to wear their turbans while on duty. 

A navy blue turban with a badge will replace the traditional cap worn by other personnel – but wearers will need approval from senior officers. 

“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 NYPD Commissioner, James O’Neill, announced.

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“It’s a major change in our uniform policy, so we had to go about it carefully. And now I have the opportunity to make the change, and I thought it was about time that we did that.”

Around 160 Sikhs serve in the NYPD, according to Mr O'Neill, and the news was welcomed by the officers. Turbans are integral to Sikh culture and identity and are worn by all adult men in addition to a beard. 

“This is a proud moment for Sikh community,” the Sikh Officers Association tweeted in response to the news. 

"It's a great feeling," president of the association, Gurvinder Singh, told CNN. "There will be a lot more Sikh officers now taking the next exam."

Prior to the changes, Sikh officers had to wear a smaller wrap called a ‘patka’ under the standard issue cap. 

In addition, religious officers are now allowed to grow facial hair to up to 1.27cm, again, only with the permission of a superior.

Otherwise, the limit for facial hair remains just one millimetre. 

Kavneet Singh, of the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund told the broadcaster that while the move was a “great step”, he looked forward to “reviewing the policy in depth and ensuring that Sikhs can serve with their turban and beards intact” with “no limitations”. 

Less than 10 police forces across the US have codified rules allowing Sikhs to serve with a turban and beard.