Last week, the NYPD announced it will allow Sikh officers to wear turbans instead of traditional caps, and grow their beards up to half an inch long for religious reasons.
The sudden change in uniform policy has some praising the efforts of the NYPD while others have taken to blogs and their social media accounts to criticize the move.
“Doing this isn’t going to make people feel that much safer or remove prejudices and bias that is rooted in people’s hearts,” one man posted to his Facebook account. ” In fact, it makes it worse. This classifies them by their religion and not by their service as police officers.”
“You’re supposed to recognize a cop by their service, not by their religion,” another man tweeted. “This is America, not India.”
But other social media users quickly defended the gesture.
“I don’t really see why anyone would care what kind of hats cops wear. They’ve got baseball caps, their dress hats, the state police have those silly looking mountie hats… Most of them don’t seem to wear any hats.It’s really meaningless.”
The change in uniform regulation comes after hero NYPD Officer Aml Elsokary and her 16-year-old son were harassed and attacked last month because of their Muslim faith. Police later arrested Christopher Nelson, 36, of Brooklyn and charged him with menacing as a hate crime and aggravated assault in the second degree.
Since that time, the NYPD reported that the city has seen an alarming increase in hate crimes around the city, targeted particularly at Jews and Muslims.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce addressed the spike in hate crimes last month during a news conference at 1 Police Plaza, telling the press, “We’re seeing across the board an increase right now.”
In response to the uptick in hate crimes, Govenor Cuomo launched a special police unit to combat the surge.
“I am ordering the State Police to put together a special unit to address the explosion of hate crimes in our state,” the Govenor wrote on his Twitter account.
“We want to make the NYPD as diverse as possible, ” recently appointed Police Commissioner James O’Neill said after a graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden, “and I think this is going to go a long way to help us with that.”