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."