New York Police Officers Allowed to Wear Turbans on Duty

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

"If the NYPD's new policy indeed allows for Sikhs to maintain unshorn beards and turbans, that sends a strong message that Sikhs are part of the mainstream fabric of America", said Sikh Coalition legal director Harsimran Kaur.

The restrictions posed a conflict for the force's observant Muslims, whose faith calls for longer beards, and Sikhs, who are supposed to wear both beards and long hair under a turban. Their turbans are considered sacred. Before these changes, Sikh officers were permitted only to wear a thin head covering, known as patka, underneath the NYPD uniform hat. "It's a great feeling".

More Sikhs will now be able to apply for a career in the NYPD and are expected to enrol for the upcoming police officer exam.

The NYPD said that 7,000 police officers have been assigned to New Year's Eve patrol.

Before, Sikh officers had to fit their turbans under their department issued cap. The new rules also permit officers to grow their beards up to an inch in length; previously, beards were only allowed to be one millimeter in length. Beards were forbidden because they interfered with wearing gas masks. Syed was reinstated in June, though his case is still open. "I'm still disappointed", Syed told CNN.

"I'm still disappointed. If they're saying now that the policy is half an inch and I'm walking around in police headquarters with the top brass, walking around with a beard that's 1 1/2 to 2 inches, where does that leave me? Am I going to be walked out of the building again?"

There are approximately 160 Sikh police officers in the department, according to O'Neill.

The change in policy comes in the wake of the NYPD arrest of a Muslim woman charged with filing a false police report claiming she was attacked by Trump supporters who tried to grab her hijab off her head.