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MPD: Turbans Approved For Police Force

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Members of the Sikh community attended the MPD press conference on the rule changes.
Markette Smith
Members of the Sikh community attended the MPD press conference on the rule changes.

For the first time in the history of the Metropolitan Police Department, the first officer to wear a turban joins the department. This, thanks to a new policy that now allows officers to protect and serve while wearing religious garb.

Chief Cathy Lanier says the police department is actively looking for recruits and she's not going disqualify based on religion. Even if a religion calls for its members to wear a head wrap.

"People have to be progressive and forward-thinking and inclusive," she says. "So when people ask me why are we doing this, I would say why wouldn't we do this?"

The decision comes as the police academy plans to graduate its first recruit in August who is a member of India's Sikh religion.

"This policy represents a significant step forward for civil rights, for religious freedom," says Sikh advocate Jasjit Singh.

Singh estimates there are about 25,000 people in the Washington Metro area who follow the religion. Its male members are known for wearing turbans and growing long beards as a symbol of their faith and respect.

"We sort of wear our uniform every day," says Singh. "And that's why it's wonderful to have the MPD stand with us and for us to really have these two uniforms standing together serving a common purpose."

In addition to street patrol, the new recruit will conduct outreach in the Sikh community.

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