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Metro D.C. PD Amends Uniform Policy for Sikh Officers

May 16, 2012  | 

L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Jasjit Singh successfully lobbied the Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department to amend its uniform policy for Sikh officers. Photo: Jasjit Singh
L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Jasjit Singh successfully lobbied the Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department to amend its uniform policy for Sikh officers. Photo: Jasjit Singh

The Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department became the first major law enforcement agency in the country to allow Sikh Americans to maintain their articles of faith while serving as full-time officers.

Chief Cathy Lanier released a special order amending the uniform rules that she announced during a press conference today. The new policy, which was developed with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), offer specific guidance on the accommodation of the Sikh articles of faith including beards and turbans.

"Making it clear that Sikh Americans may protect the nation's capital and may serve their community as full-time officers reflects the promise we made to have a police force that serves as a model for those around the world," said Chief Lanier. "It is important that all those who live in, work in, and visit the district see our values and commitment to the community in our officers."

Sikh Americans often face barriers to employment in public safety because of uniform policies that restrict their articles of faith, including uncut hair and turbans, according to Jasjit Singh, executive director of SALDEF.

"Due to this new policy, Sikh Americans have an equal opportunity to serve in the nation's capital," Singh said. "We encourage Sikh Americans to pursue careers with MPD, the first major police department to allow Sikh Americans to serve and protect their neighbors as full-time officers while maintaining their religious identity."

Tags: Uniforms, Dress Codes, Metro (D.C.) PD


Comments (59)

Displaying 1 - 59 of 59

scout1 @ 5/16/2012 6:10 PM

Cheers to MPD! I know that Sikhs have a long and distinguished record for serving with Britain's military for well over a hundred years, and more recently with London Metro. I would be proud to work beside a Sikh officer.

Kashmir @ 5/16/2012 7:22 PM

very prooud of the Sikh community good job!

TraumaQueen @ 5/16/2012 10:55 PM

I worry about these officers being targeted because of their garb, but kudos for allowing the option. It looks professional, and I sincerely hope this change generates support and increasing tolerance for the Sikhs. Stay safe out there!

bob cerone @ 5/17/2012 6:16 AM

Why bother to even have uniforms!Just come to work wearing and looking however you want! What a farce! FUGETTA-BOUT-IT!!!

C @ 5/17/2012 6:59 AM

So at what point do we stop using religion? I'm a native American can I smoke a peace pipe while I'm on the job its my religion

SoCal Detective @ 5/17/2012 3:47 PM

I'm glad we've gotten so tolerant of religion. I'll wear the sign of the fish on my uniform from now on. Oh wait, I forgot that separation of church and state only applies to Christianity. Read "The New Tolerance" by Josh McDowell. It's eye opening.

DB @ 5/17/2012 3:49 PM

You know, this is beyond the ridiculous!! I understand the equality issue, however, because of religion they get to have facial hair, which by most department standards, does not give a professional appearance to the public. So do I get to have facial hair now even though I am not a Sihk? Also, my department does not let us have visible tattoos, because it is not professional. However, if I have a religious tattoo, say St. Michael, or Jesus on the cross, is it now ok?

Jerry @ 5/17/2012 3:51 PM

What's wrong with it? Cops all over the country are tatted up, bearded and moustached up, and wear pretty much what they want as long as the department pays for it. The loss of respect for the badge continues..both with the cops and the "Citizens.". We are in a "If it feels good, do it" society anyway. Before long, no one will know who is a cop and who isn't!

JM @ 5/17/2012 3:58 PM

Absolute BS! He knew the job requirements and standards before he applied, just as we all did. Its called a uniform for a reason... we are not allowed to display religious markings on uniforms so as not to intimidate those of other religions, and for good reason. So now we have this guy showing up on calls??? First the post office slacks with pony tails and beards, whats next the military? Get a spine America, remember what that is???

John Jackson @ 5/17/2012 4:04 PM

This is rediculous.....no other way to describe it. If one does not want to abide by uniform rules that demand clean cut, well goomed officers, they should go work at something else. You can thank the "space cadet" Sheriff Baca of LA County for this bearded jerk. He is just one example of the disgrace he has allowed on the LASD. I am embarassed to admit that I spent 30 years with them. Glad to be retired. JJ

John Jackson @ 5/17/2012 4:04 PM

This is rediculous.....no other way to describe it. If one does not want to abide by uniform rules that demand clean cut, well goomed officers, they should go work at something else. You can thank the "space cadet" Sheriff Baca of LA County for this bearded jerk. He is just one example of the disgrace he has allowed on the LASD. I am embarassed to admit that I spent 30 years with them. Glad to be retired. JJ

notmeofficer @ 5/17/2012 4:16 PM

Just another one of Bacas touchy feely BS programs watering down LASD....

Disgusting...

We are a department of deputies with one cause.. great service to our community,, not personal whims of dress and style or religion and pop culture... this deputy should be ashamed of himself for wanting to stand out as an individual

Sure the Sikhs were great warriors in the British army.. LASD isnt the British army

I worked FPK and SEB.. MAL and WHD... this is total B.S....

what next Hijabs?

Leave Baca... you have disgraced OUR department.

Biff @ 5/17/2012 4:31 PM

Crosses or fish symbols are not central tenets of faith. But beards, hair and turbans are tenets of faith to Sikhs. They cannot practice their faith without them. Sikhs fought proudly in World Wars I and II as volunteers - with one condition - that they not be forced to wear helmets because of the turban requirement. And please spare me the "uniformity" argument - that ship sailed long ago when departments allowed optional shorts, bike uniforms, BDUs, hats optional, leather or nylon choices.

Read up on the Sikhs. They are exactly the kind of people who I would want backing me up. They come from a warrior tradition and value honesty and loyalty. And please, please, stop connecting this to sharia law. They aren't Muslims!

michael @ 5/17/2012 4:47 PM

This is so ridiculous, I have been in Law Enforcement for most of my life and I can't believe this story. This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and we have set standards in LE. Go along with our existing standards or don't even try to serve with us. Whats next, the US Military, FBI, and the US MARSHALS going to allow this crap. I'm completely disguised with where we are heading and giving in to all these AH's who what to change everything to accommodate themselves. The system is completely FUBAR.........................

Denny Wilson @ 5/17/2012 4:49 PM

Forget about the look, under that headdress is a full head of long hair that make him vulnerable to being dragged around by his hair. And, how is he ever going to seal a gas mask over that beard. If he can have a beard, then any member of the department should be allowed to have a beard – can you imagine how creative some will be if you open that Pandora ’s Box.

Officer Safety @ 5/17/2012 4:50 PM

My only concern is that Sikhs are often confused for Muslims. Wearing their turbans and beards might make them bigger targets for the hate-filled people out there.

P.O. Richard @ 5/17/2012 4:53 PM

You are supposed to drop all religious / political/ personal beliefs when you are in uniform on duty. You have to be unbiased and objective. This is a clear outward sign of your religion which should not be allowed. Its not about equal rights, its about maintaining a UNIFORM, and unbiased police force. Also if he can wear that, whats stopping anyone from wearing anything and claiming its religious?

starrman69 @ 5/17/2012 5:30 PM

Gosh, it was 15 years ago that one of our deputies wore a small cross on his uniform, just above his name plate. He was told to remove it. If he were alive today, I imagine that he'd find this new revelation surprising...

Sugarbear @ 5/17/2012 5:37 PM

Now, I suppose women can wear their bikinis while on duty, and perhaps their burkas....this PC crap is getting ridiculous. I am glad that I am going to retire from law enforcement this year.

Frank @ 5/17/2012 5:41 PM

So here we are! When does this stuff stop? Special people get special treatment. Why are we always bending rules and guidelines for every person that thinks they are entitled? I want to be CMFIC of some thing too! Why does cultures from different countries get a special wavier? When are we going to wake-up around here? This is like a sideshow. What's next Obama children wanting to be Navy SEALS?

James @ 5/17/2012 5:56 PM

As long as it looks professional (ie colour matches uniform) I have no problems with it. Many other countries including our Neighbours to the north have been allowing it for Over 20 years.

Richard @ 5/17/2012 6:02 PM

We are a nation founded by those looking to practice their religion without persecution. Faith is rarely used as a crutch, but when it is that is no reason to attack those who practice their religion honorably. The Sikh have served along side U.S. troops in every war and won the top medal in each. Even the U.S. Army allows them to follow their religious practices because they do not affect their ability to be warriors. In fact they are some of the most impressive warriors you will ever research. Support our law enforcement brothers and sisters who serve the same society we do. We are all guardians of justice and this is not an issue that should be of concern when we have so many other real issues to worry about.

Tom Ret @ 5/17/2012 6:08 PM

This looks like policy is being tailored to meet the individual rather than
the other way around. This could be a slippery slope which leads to all kinds of weirdness. The officer may look great in his uniform and dress to other Sikhs but looks out of place here in the US.

HANK HILL @ 5/17/2012 6:25 PM

HOPE TO HELL I WILL BE ABLE TO TELL GOOD GUYS FROM BAD GUYS. BEARD COOL BUT IF I SAW A TURBAN COMMING TOWARD ME I MIGHT RUN OR SHOOT!

Tschako @ 5/17/2012 6:28 PM

If DC is the first department to allow this, what is Singh doing in an LASD uniform? Is that not a major LE department? I'm in agreement with JM; it's called a uniform for a reason, and everyone knew that when they hired on. Would you believe I once got written up for wearing a tie TACK instead of a tie BAR on my uniform? Seems funny now.

BT @ 5/17/2012 6:30 PM

Seriously WTF; it’s Over, the stupid ass, politically correct, political class that calls itself the overseers of Law Enforcement are now turning the country over to non-conformist Sharia Law adhering immigrants from the stone age 3rd world, because they want to be all inclusive and diverse.
All inclusive and diverse is why our society is going to shit. This all inclusiveness is akin to body builders eating at McDonalds for fear of hurting McDonalds feelings. Like NASCAR racing only Electric cars because they would rather be environmentally friendly than exciting. Like wonder woman being grandmotherly to criminals as opposed to being a hot crime fighting babe.
How would you like to answer a DV call with this mooch, oh well I guess the upside would be the lack of paperwork, I’m sure his response would be;
“Why do you let your woman use the phone…..beat her for doing so before we leave or you’ll be going to jail….INFIDEL!”
As a final response all I got is…..MFER.

Tschako @ 5/17/2012 6:33 PM

What concerns me is kowtowing to religious pressure organizations likem SALDEF, CAIR and others. This political correctness is a cancer that will eventually doom us as a democracy. Sorry, if you want to work somewhere, abide by the regulations of that place, or go elsewhere.

Alan Mark @ 5/17/2012 7:46 PM

OK, so Now, Sikhs get to wear their Turban & Beards...I went to the Acaddemy with a guy that was a Sikh and he did not wear these items, because he understood that it was not appropriate in Policing.. Also, since they get to wear their "Articles of Faith" , can they now openly wear a Kirpan.. this is the Razor Sharp DAGGER in an ornamented Brass scabbard that is a symbol of the Sikh (Warrior Caste) belief system...I dont think this is appropriate for uniformed personnel. UI would also question the SAFETY ASPECT of having a beard and a Turban (which could be removed in a fight, with Uncut hair underneath, as a "handle " for the bad guys.. is the Turban At Least a matchhng color to the uniform? As for the comment about Sikhs swervung in the British services, I understand that they are some of the most accomplished & agressive soldiers & Constables the U.K. has.. the visible signs of this are the only thing that disturbs me...

Todd @ 5/17/2012 8:09 PM

Ridiculous. Look where we are headed. Don't want to offend anyone now.

Rick Ward @ 5/17/2012 8:34 PM

My wife would shoot him before he had a chance to stop her.

mtarte @ 5/17/2012 9:54 PM

I celebrate those that wish to practice their religion. I believe in the 1st Amendment. That said, I could not wear a cross nor could Sikh students wear their ceremonial dagger to school, regardless of the reason. This has been decided in 1976 by the USSC under Kelly v. Johnson about uniform and grooming standards. Also for years patrol cops were forbidden to wear other than moustaches due to the need to have a good seal on gas masks. Has that changed? Sorry, do we accept Burkha wearing female cops, Hassidic cops with their required hair and hats or any other special interest group? The uniform stands for something including grooming standards and head gear otherwise why bother?

LONEWOLF @ 5/18/2012 3:58 AM

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!! THIS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND. WHEN I WAS ON THE FORCE/JOB, YOU HAD TO HAVE SHORT HAIR, NO AND I MEAN NO SIDEBURNS. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR POLICE DEPARTMENTS? WE USED TO BE A PROUD GROUP NOW LOOK AT US.

Kyle in China Spring @ 5/18/2012 4:33 AM

SoCal Detective has it right. Appease all religions except Christianity. I now know a Sihk officer but don't know a Christian officer. If the head-garb is allowed, the fish should be also because it is a direct sign of my Savior Jesus Christ. As we push God away, away he will go and our country's founding culture with Him. <><

D J @ 5/18/2012 4:58 AM

IT MAKES YOU WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN WENT THE SHITE REALLY HITS THE FAN. WHEN CIVIL UNREST OR WAR BREAKS OUT, HERE IN OUR UNITED STATES, WILL COPPERS FIGHT THE PEOPLE OR GO HOME AND PROTECT THEM? THAT'S WHAT ALL THIS IS COMING DOWN TO.

Maleman39 @ 5/18/2012 5:00 AM

Article of faith? Then allow Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Native Americans, etc., to wear their articles of faith also. Not to do so would be glaring discrimination on the basis of religion. What a can of worms.

PUHLEZE @ 5/18/2012 6:15 AM

The phrase, "Our House, our rules" should apply here. As is the case of a male wanting to wait tables at Hooters. He has to wear the company uniform, so why would that be discrimination? IT ISNT! If the Sikhs wish to work as a Law Enforcement Officer, then he has to follow ALL Of the rules! I am totally for equal opportunity, however, this doesnt apply here when a person wants to use a LAME reason to not follow the rules due to his 'religion'. BAH-LONEY!

DPB @ 5/18/2012 6:40 AM

To quote an old general, I don't care how do they look, how do they fight! I have seen too many who appeared clean cut and squared away who have nothing upstairs and no sense of ethics. If this guy can do the job and uphold the integrity of the position more power to him!

DPB @ 5/18/2012 6:52 AM

Let's get a few more Skih's and a couple of Gurkas and unleash them upon the miscreants whom are currenly being coddled because they have had a bad childhood and their mommies didn't hug them!

JR @ 5/18/2012 7:27 AM

Breaking news...muslim female on police department now allowed to wear burka

Tom Ret @ 5/18/2012 7:55 AM

With the country's and Obama's evolving moral standards, don't be surprised to see transgender officers or males who want to exhibit their feminine side, wearing shirts on patrol and Holder backing up their right to do so without being discriminated against.

Robin @ 5/18/2012 8:12 AM

I am appalled by some of the comments, suggesting that their own style is the only style. Styles change, and so do uniform standards. I kind of liked Wyatt Earp's look, but AZ cops don't dress like that anymore. The real question (in my opinion) is when did the police forces become purely military organizations and not part of the communities they serve? Yes, obviously most policing is done in a paramilitary context, but... If you served an orthodox Jewish community, you might be much more effective if you did have a beard. On the other hand if everyone had to have a Marine-standard hair cut to be a cop then what sort of people would you attract to the profession?

I am thinking that while this guy would look pretty weird in patrolling in many parts of the US, that in DC he just looks like a cop.

John mason @ 5/18/2012 8:34 AM

When did Americans get castrated? This politically correct nonsense does nothing to benefit America or Americans! If he can't abide by the uniform requirements he shouldn't be on duty. Clean cut, folks... This is B.S. and outrageous. Our system is coming undone to bend in favor of politics... What a shame.

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 5/18/2012 8:52 AM

Hey, L.A. will be Blade-Runner in a few years. Uniform, what uniform. You may see Orthodix Jews with their large black hats partnering up with turban wearing Muslims.. No, maybe not.

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/18/2012 8:55 AM

I just have one question, do they remove their head covers in Court?

Frank @ 5/18/2012 10:39 AM

The only reason why Deputy Singh was successful is because Metro PD was afraid the Lawsuit Gods would strike. Our government is more afraid of a lawsuit or the ACLU than the terroists roaming around freely in this country.

Yardcop1 @ 5/18/2012 2:37 PM

I agree with many of you on the ovet tolerance to religon governing what's suppose to be separation of church and state which cops are suppose to be (or at least appeare) neutral. So having religious overtones kinda runes that. That said sihks have served various countries includings ours and England's for centuries with distinction and tolerance, so I am not surprised to find this happing now, though due to current military engagements they will be targeted as radical Islamics and not as hindu sihks.

Lloyd Reese @ 5/18/2012 3:38 PM


There's more too it than this article included. (See Post link below.)
Note that he's a reserve officer, about to graduate from the academy. In my day, retired in 1997 after 21 years, I don't think he would have been accepted for training. Also, MPD now permits dreadlocks and beards. 15 years ago, officers who wanted to grow a beard would have to find a doctor to provide a medical reason for the beard. If he's a good officer, that's what really counts.

Lloyd Reese, Res. Lt., Retired, MPDC

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-police-to-allow-sikh-officers-to-wear-beards-religious-items-on-job/2012/05/16/gIQAlNweUU_story.html

Ron @ 5/19/2012 1:55 AM

Maybe the Golden State should disband the Equestrian LEO's and request Camels, one or two humps with your coffee! When will we stop this B.S.

Jim @ 5/19/2012 8:59 AM

I gladly welcome all religions to our profession. I am not saying that turbans look bad, but at my work, I get crap from the chief for making a comment even slightly relating to religion. I am supposed to separate Church from State. A Sikh wearing a turban proudly announces his religion. Does that mean I can wear a baseball hat with a large cross on the front? I would lose my job and since I am a Christian and member of a majority, I would have no legal standing.

Long hair or even reasonable beards as part of your religion is one thing, but uniforms are another. What is next? Even jewelry and tattoos are monitored to standardize the look of the officers. What do we allow next? Traditional African garb, large cowboy belt buckles, Rally Caps?

An exception for one creates problems for all.

Jim A.

Frank @ 5/19/2012 12:13 PM

Leave it to brave people in law enforcement (except for a few) to tell it how it is and it should be!

MGC @ 5/21/2012 5:52 AM

Wow! It is getting harder and harder each day determining who really is your enemy.

Bman @ 5/21/2012 8:27 AM

Yea, I agree. It is a uniform for a reason. Latin meaning "one form". No one gets any special treatment. If your allowed to wear that, then jews should wear their little cap thing, Christians should get to wear whatever they see feel shows their religion. It will get out of hand unless you pick on one religion while letting others do what they want. That is a main reason for the uniform to begin with. My agency makes us pay for facial hair other than a mustache. I disagree with it. Either allow it or not.

Mark @ 5/21/2012 10:24 AM

Good for him. I support all law enforcement officers. Semper Fi

Wendy @ 5/21/2012 6:53 PM

What's Next.. Hijabs and women having to wear sheets? To hell with this crap. If you can't accept Christians, and take OUR rights away in this countr;y that was founded on Judeo-Christian values, Why should I tolerate the Middle east ?

Jason Barnes @ 5/30/2012 3:47 PM

Canada led the idiotic way by decades. It allowed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear these turbans instead of the traditional Dudley Dooright style cover. Incidentally, the Sikhs are being not only pushy but dishonest: their religion specifically allows doing away with the turban when necessary for practical reasons. Eg., when a pilot or motorcycle officer has to wear a helmet.

jp @ 2/11/2013 12:18 PM

Insane!!!! Catholics and Christains could never get away with this yet, they took the cross off of the county seal!

Arthur Rossi @ 3/28/2013 6:07 AM

As a retired police officer I find this discusting! The reaction of the criminal when confronted by a uniformed officer is that of authority and military bearing by the officer thus commanding respect and making the officers job easier to control situations that have gotten out of hand. The areas where I policed it would be very hard for this bearded turban man to show up without being sucker punched. There are reasons for dress code and regulations for the publics police officers, that have been tried and effective for the better.

Zuber Malek @ 7/22/2013 10:08 AM

Wendy you seem extremely ignorant, as Sikhs are from India not the middle-east. You also claim Christianity, Jesus Christ would not like how you judge others, your a bad Christian. This country was formed by immigrants, when the pilgrims arrived they came here in search of religious freedom from Europe. Learn your history instead of sleeping with your cousin.

Carlos de Lima @ 12/25/2013 8:05 PM

I´m not a Police Officer, and i´m not American , but i have to say that i always respect (and gona continue to respect ) the way your country respect the individuals rights and privacy, i just have to say that the turban is not exclusive to Muslins, in my grandparents country (Lebanon), i´m from a Maronite Family, you can see Cristians with the turban, there is not a religious symbol. But i have to say that the Sihks are a race of great warriors, i would like to have a lot of them in Brazilian Police, my country, they are famous by their courage , like many others races of course, but i have to say that this kind of thing makes your Country what it realy is , the best place on Earth to live. Congratulations America's Police Officers of any faith , you make your country what it really is, a safe place .

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