Monday, September 29, 2008

No Hijab on the-Job

The Philadelphia Police Department has a series of dozens of what are known as 'Directives' which govern nearly every facet of a police officer's work. From their uniforms to their firearms, from the proper procedures for obtaining warrants to the proper procedures for recording daily work assignments.

Every single person who signs up to become a Philadelphia police officer is aware of these directions, qualifications, and restrictions.

The uniform serves a couple of specific purposes. Not only does it identify each wearer as a police officer, but it also engenders respect.

It's formality let's those who come in contact with an officer know that they are dealing with someone who represents their municipality in an official capacity.

The uniformity shows that all those wearing the particular uniform are parts working together as one entity in carrying out their respective individual duties.

The Philadelphia Police Department is a para-military unit, which means that they are a group of civilians organized in a military fashion. Much of the uniformity, weaponry, and tactics of being a police officer are drawn from the military services.

Today, the uniform of the Philadelphia Police officer is under assault by a handful of special interest and religious groups. A female officer from North Philly's 35th District, publicly identified in the local media as officer Kim Webb, claims that she became a Muslim after being hired for the police job. Webb states that her faith requires her to wear a 'hijab' at all times in public, and so now wants to wear this garment along with the rest of her police uniform.

This article of clothing is completely religious in character, and has nothing to do with her police job, and is nowhere to be found on the list of proper uniform items in the PPD. Bottom line, P/O Webb is not allowed to wear the item while in uniform.


But that is not good enough for P/O Webb, just as other officers in the past have not been happy with the department's policies on beards, piercings, tattoos, and other items. The fact of the matter is that these people all know what they are getting into when they sign up. If the don't like the rules, they shouldn't become a cop.

If something about their lives changes, such as a religious awakening of some sort, and it triggers a conflict with their departmental assignments or standards, then that person needs to either find a way to conform to the work requirements during on-duty hours, or they need to resign their position.

There is no constitutional 'right' for me to tattoo a crucifix on my head, or wear crucifix earrings or pins, or a Jewish officer to wear a yarmulke, or any officer to wear a beard in uniform, as there is none for this officer to wear a hijab.

As a Catholic, I have received 'ashes' on Ash Wednesday and left them on during work hours. Of course, they were gone the next day. I wasn't looking to wear ashes every day, or wear a crucifix on the outside of my uniform around my neck.

Now Webb has filed a law suit, and has been joined in it by another Muslim female and a handful of ethnic and religious organizations. What we are seeing happen is the attempted opening of Pandora's Box, and what the history of this liberal city and it's cop-killer releasing judiciary has is a strong liberal record on these types of things.

Courts in the past have ruled that as long as an employee has a sincerely held religious belief, they should be accommodated as well as possible. This horrible ruling, allowing for any manner of possible abominations, has killed morale in a number of companies and municipalities.

It is long past time for the judiciary to backup the legitimate standards, structure, and morale of the Philadelphia police department and other employers before those things become a thing of the past. The courts should absolutely say no hijab on the-job.

And Philadelphia police supervisors and commanders should solidly enforce the uniform regulations as regards items such as religious or ethnic organization pins, hijabs, yarmulkes, hair lengths and styles, piercings, tattoos, beards, and more.

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