NYPD Goes Back to Banning Beards for Most Officers

June 7, 2024
The new NYPD edict is set to take effect June 17 and was issued "to ensure that all uniformed members of the service reflect the department's high standards of professionalism."

NEW YORK — Hair today, gone tomorrow.

The New York Police Department is going back to its clean-cut ways, banning beards just four years after it decided to allow them.

The rule, which follows a recent crackdown on sloppily-dressed cops, does not apply to undercover officers or to those who have been granted religious or medical exemptions.

The new edict was detailed in a May 3 internal order, called “Facial Hair Policy,” and applies to all police officers, school safety agents and traffic enforcement agents.


It’s set to take effect June 17 and was issued “to ensure that all uniformed members of the service reflect the department’s high standards for professionalism,” a NYPD spokesperson said.

The department relaxed its facial hair rules in 2020, two years after a settlement was made in a class-action lawsuit filed by a Muslim cop.

Officer Masood Syed, a Sunni Muslim who had been suspended for refusing to trim his one-inch beard to 1 mm in length, the maximum allowed by the department, argued the facial hair rules were unconstitutional.

The Police Benevolent Association noted Thursday that the difficulty in adjudicating fairly all those who apply for a religious or medical exemption “was one of the reasons the department changed the policy to allow beards without an exemption.

“Since the Department has chosen to go back to the previous approach,” the union added, “the PBA is monitoring to ensure that the process is being administered fairly and the Department is adhering with all terms of the 2018 settlement.”

The medical exemption typically involves Black officers affected with pseudofolliculitis barbae, a skin condition in which beard hairs curve back and penetrate the skin, making shaving painful. In such cases, beards can be a half-inch long, the NYPD says.

The same 1/2-inch rule applies for those who get a religious exemption, though observant officers can ask to grow their beards longer.

The new internal order also reminds officers and agents that mustaches and sideburns — a standard since the department was founded in 1845 — are still allowed. But no staches “extending beyond (or) drooping below corners of mouth” and no sideburns “extending below bottom of earlobe” are allowed, according to the order.

Chinstrap and designer beards — those that include names, patterns or logos — are still a no-no, as are goatees.

Top cop Edward Caban, who sports a neatly-trimmed goatee, is exempt from the new rules because police commissioner is a civilian position.

The upper echelons of the department have in recent months griped internally about what they see as a casual Friday approach that’s less than befitting a paramilitary organization.

The New York Daily News reported in April about a move to update the NYPD’s dress code, banning shorts on transit beats and white turtlenecks and cargo pants for patrol officers — and reminding officers that NYPD baseball caps are to be pulled down straight, not tilted back or sideways.

That internal order, which also includes a ban on all shoelaces that are not black, was sparked by a committee review lead by Inspector Paul Saraceno.

“I believe that in every profession, if you take it seriously and you act professionally, you dress professionally, you present yourself the same way, it revolves around everything you do,” he said at the time. “If you’re not squared away, if you’re sloppy, it speaks to who you are.

“We expect professionalism in every aspect.”


©2024 New York Daily News.

Visit nydailynews.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!