US & Canada

New York's Sikh police officers to replace hats with turbans

New York Police Department Commissioner James O'Neill speaks to new graduates of the Police Academy during their graduation ceremony in New York, 28 December 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill hopes to encourage people to apply to the force

New rules allowing Sikh police officers to wear turbans instead of traditional police hats have been introduced in New York, officials say.

The New York Police Department said the turbans must be navy blue and have the NYPD insignia attached.

Under the new rules, religious members of the force are also permitted to grow beards up to half-an-inch long.

Sikh officers have until now worn turbans under their caps. Beards have not been permitted.

New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the change was to encourage religious members of the community to apply "to work in the greatest police department in the nation".

The Sikh Officers Association of the US thanked Mr O'Neill in a tweet, adding that it was a "proud moment" for the Sikh community.

Image copyright Twitter

Mr O'Neill announced the new rules following a graduation ceremony for new police recruits at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Wednesday.

Sikhs often cover their heads with turbans and are forbidden from shaving their beards.

In May, a Sikh soldier who was forced to shave off his hair and beard to join the US Army won the right to wear a black or camouflage turban and grow his facial hair.

More on this story