NEWARK — The Newark Police Department announced Thursday that female Muslim officers will now be able to wear hijabs on the job.
It’s part of the city’s approach to make sure residents can identify with police. The change comes after requests from at least one female officer and address concerns over the garb getting in the way of an officer’s job.
The policy change is the first under the watch of newly-appointed Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara.
“It’s just another way we can connect with the people of our community,” O’Hara said. “It helps to show visually to the folks in our community that we respect their faith, we value it and we are proud to be a part of this community as well.”
Mayor Ras Baraka noted at the announcement that this is nothing new from the Newark PD, saying that it was the first department in the country to allow Muslim and Sikh officers to grow beards.
“To be able to recognize peoples’ religion and how they practice it and allow them to do that safely and appropriately on the worksite speaks volumes,” he said.
In the past, the department has kept a registry of those officers who requested to deviate for religious purposes. O’Hara says that it’s now no longer necessary.
Under the Baraka administration the Newark PD has evolved. At least 80% of the force is made up of people of color and 22% are female. The latest policy change they hope resonates to residents of faith.