By Ayesha UlhaqRabat – New York Authorities Have Confirmed New Rules Allowing Sikh Police Officers to Wear Turbans and Grow Beards.The New York Police Department has changed its policy to permit Sikh and Muslim officers to grow beards of 1.27cm long and wear turbans for religious purposes with the aim of recruiting more minorities. The New York Police Department has stated that the turbans must be naval-force blue and have the NYPD symbol attached.Under the new rules, religious individuals on the police force are also allowed to grow beards up to half an inch long for religious reasons.Prior to this, Sikh officers have worn turbans under their police hats and beards have not been permitted.New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill declared the new rule on Wednesday after a graduation ceremony for new police recruits. Mr. O’Neill said the change was to encourage the recruitment of religious individuals from the community to apply.He told the New York Times, “We’re making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work in the greatest police department in the nation, to make sure we give them that opportunity.”Of the 557 volunteers who graduated at the ceremony, 33 are Muslims and two are Sikhs, the Times reported.The Sikh Officers Association, an advocacy group in the U.S. that works to protect the religious freedom, expressed gratitude to Mr. O’Neill in a tweet, including that it was a “proud moment” for the Sikh community. They also commented that they are “optimistic about what this announcement represents in the way of progress.”There was a similar change in the U.S. Army earlier this year. In May, a Sikh soldier who was forced to shave off his hair and beard in order to join the US Army won the right to wear a black or camouflage turban and grow his facial hair.