Sikh Americans can maintain beards, turbans in MPD

WASHINGTON (AP) - The D.C. police department says Sikh Americans who join the force will be able to wear the long beards and turbans associated with their faith.

Police officials announced a special order on Wednesday aimed at making it easier for Sikhs to become police officers.

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund says this is the first major metropolitan police department with an explicit written policy that ensures that Sikhs will be able maintain their appearance, though other law enforcement agencies have made some accommodations.

SALDEF executive director Jasjit Singh says the policy change is a big step forward for civil rights and for law enforcement.

The change won't affect many officers. SALDEF says there's one reserve Sikh officer going through the academy right now