Sikh American police officers in Washington, D.C. are now allowed to wear turbans and full beards on the job under a uniform policy change announced Wednesday.
The written change is said to be the first of its kind for a major metropolitan police force, though other law enforcement agencies have less formal arrangements, according to the Associated Press.
Under the new rules, Sikh officers are permitted to tie their beard in a knot and tuck it beneath their chin and wear a uniform-matching turban at all times unless it conflicts with duty requiring them to wear a helmet, such as when responding to a riot. The policy will also allow officers to wear other religious items such as steel bracelets around their wrists and small decorative swords under their clothing, the Washington Post reported.
“I think it’s a step forward not only for civil rights and religious freedom, I think it’s a step forward for law enforcement,” said Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.