The New York Police Department will no longer require people who are arrested to remove religious headwear during mug shots, as part of a federal lawsuit settlement, reports USA Today. Muslim women sued New York City after they were forced to remove their hijabs after arrests and be photographed with their head and hair uncovered. One of the woman said that removing her hijab, a garment worn by many Muslim women, and being photographed with it at her shoulders made her feel “humiliated, distraught and panicked from this coerced violation of her religious practice.” The settlement will allow those detained by NYPD to retain their religious headwear while in custody and require officer training about the new policy. The policy will also cover religious headwear from other traditions, including yarmulkes, wigs, habits, turbans and kufis, among others.
A person can have a driver’s license or other ID photo taken with a religious head covering on, so “there’s no reason why the NYPD should require them to remove these same head coverings” when they’ve been accused of a crime, said plaintiffs’ attorney Albert Fox Cahn. Patricia Miller, the head of the city’s Special Federal Litigation Division, said the policy change was “a good reform for the NYPD.” “It carefully balances the department’s respect for firmly held religious beliefs with the legitimate law enforcement need to take arrest photos, and should set an example for other police departments in the country,” she added. A complaint filed in 2018 alleged that Jamilla Clark, who was arrested over a protective order filed by an ex-husband, faced threats of prosecution if she did not remove her hijab for the mug shot.