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NYPD Introduces New Dress Code Policies For Sikh Officers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD has changed their uniform policy to reflect the growing diversity of the city, according to Commissioner James O'Neill.

Wearing a turban is a religious requirement for Sikh men. Now, instead of fitting one uncomfortably beneath their department issued cap, Sikh police officers can simply place their shield on the turban. It's a policy change Commissioner O'Neill says is long overdue.

"I think it's going to give people the opportunity to join the police department," O'Neill said. "If I've got my numbers right, we have about 160 people from the Sikh community and hopefully this change of policy, we'll be able to get more people to apply."

The commissioner and Mayor de Blasio presided over the swearing in of over 555 new officers, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

Nearly half of the class is white and a quarter is Hispanic.

Deputy Chief Kim Royster says the department is making an all out push to recruit more African Americans as well.

"Talking to them, mentoring them, to make sure that they realize also that this is a viable career," she said.

"This is a fantastic job," O'Neill said. "We take this job to make a difference and I know all of them are really excited about it."

In addition to the policy regarding turbans, 1010 WINS's Carol D'Auria reported that Sikh men will also be allowed to grow beards up to a half an inch long.

Medial exemptions that allow beards will also continue.

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