In the wake of the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin pressure is building to persuade the NYPD to permit Sikh police officers—or officer, as the case may be—to wear their traditional beards and turbans. Last year the City Council passed a bill pushing just such a relaxation of rules and today Comptroller John Liu, a potential 2013 mayoral candidate, wrote a public letter asking Bloomberg to "enact meaningful inclusion of this community by changing NYPD rules to allow Sikhs to serve without having to forsake their turbans and beards."
"The attack in Wisconsin reminds us that intolerance still rears its ugly head today," Liu wrote. Allowing Sikhs to wear their hair as their religion dictates would be, he argues, an important olive branch to that community. Plus, there is precedent:
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.
Liu then went on to wonder aloud: "Shouldn’t the NYPD, providing security in one of the most diverse cities in the world, proudly display its own diversity?"
Of course, Mayor Bloomberg doesn't seem too interested in listening to John Liu these days. On his radio show this morning Hizzoner scolded the Comptroller, whom he sardonically claims to "love," for grumbling about companies not paying the debts they owe the city. "He has said he's opposed to a contract that we’re trying to enter into where we would get revenues from people advertising on phone kiosks and his reason is that the company owes the city $86,000," Bloomberg explained. "He owes $500,000!" (Liu owes $527,400 to the city for plastering the city with 7,032 illegal campaign posters while running for controller in 2009—he's appealing that decision).