The New York Police Department will now allow Sikh officers to wear full turbans, as opposed to smaller wraps known as patkas.
The policy change was announced Wednesday by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. Standing beside him were officers wearing navy blue turbans with police brass fastened on them.
“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,” O’Neill said in the announcement. “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.”
The police department still maintains a strict dress code when it comes to head-wear, but officers may now wear turbans with a religious exemption signed by top department officials.
There are currently about 160 Sikh officers serving in the NYPD, according to O’Neill.
Before the new policy was enacted, Sikh officers could only wear the smaller patka under their official police hats.
The NYPD will also accommodate these officers by allowing them to grow a beard up to a half inch long, previously limited to only one millimeter in length.