Liu Calls On NYPD To Allow Sikh Cops to Wear Religious Gear

City Comptroller John Liu wrote a letter to Mayor Mike Bloomberg today calling on Hizzoner to overturn existing New York Police Department policy and permit Sikh officers to wear their traditional turbans and beards.

“The attack in Wisconsin reminds us that intolerance still rears its ugly head today, “Mr. Liu wrote. “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.”

Mr. Liu noted that the Washington D.C., police department recently changed its rules to allow Sikh officers to wear religious garb and pointed to a recent City Council law that requires workplaces to foster supportive environments for religious practices.

Full letter below:

FULL TEXT OF COMPTROLLER LIU’S LETTER TO MAYOR BLOOMBERG:

August 10, 2012

The Honorable Michael Bloomberg

Mayor

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

Thank you for the words of support and comfort offered to our City’s Sikh community in the wake of the horrific shootings in Wisconsin and for increasing NYPD security around our 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 an article of faith. Sikh community groups have long fought to secure officers the right to wear them while proudly serving our 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 our own 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?

Sincerely,

John C. Liu

Liu Calls On NYPD To Allow Sikh Cops to Wear Religious Gear