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Lubavitcher Sues NYPD Over Beard Length

JPost

Fishel Litzman, a New York police officer in training and an Orthodox Jew, took the NYPD to court on Wednesday for requiring him to trim his beard for service.

Litzman’s attorneys are saying that the police department’s accommodation, which allows for facial hair up to one millimeter in length, does not satisfy his constitutionally-protected civil right to free religious practice.

“The Police Department is now claiming that Mr. Litzman was dismissed from the Police Academy– where he stood at the head of a class of more than 800– because his facial hair prevented him from using a gas mask known as a MSA Millenium respirator,” said his attorneys in a statement, noting this was not the reason given when he was originally dismissed.

“This claim is unsound because no officer with any facial hair– even shorter than one millimeter– can use a MSA Millenium respirator.”

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication in December, The Jerusalem Report, on Orthodox Jews in the police force, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly explained that uniformity– not respirators– was the justification for the rule.

“Religion is such an important part of the lives of so many of our officers, and it goes along with the beards, the head wraps, the holidays and so forth,” Kelly told the Report. “But the public has a certain image of the police officer, and we need to maintain that philosophy.

“Balance is the goal,” Kelly added, “and we try our best to accommodate.”

17 Comments

  • 1. was at the court case wrote:

    Nat Lewin gave a very well presentation saying that the nypd is not giving him a reasonable accommodation because he would only have to shave once to have the mask fit, then he would be allowed to grow his beard. but that once it’s not an accommodation to a religious Jew. ” It’s like telling a Sabbath observer that he’ll be able to take off 2 hours on Saturday.” the NYPDs lawer made a mockery of herself when she said she was not prepared for a summary judgment because she was not expecting it. she thought it would just go to trial… (the courtroom started laughing) her point was that the law requires officers to resertify annually which would mean he has to shave

    Reply
  • 2. chaim yankel wrote:

    Of course they dont want too many hassids to all of the sudden join the NYPD and becoming the cops and having to give of shabbos etc. Ray kelly for mayor

    Reply
  • 3. nyc taxpaer wrote:

    So glad my tax dollars will fund this lawsuit because he feels he’s too special for the rules.

    Reply
    • 4. Tax Dollars wrote:

      Some NYPD officers earn way more than $100,000 per year from your tax dollars.

      Why should Orthodox Jews who qualify to serve in the Police force not be eligible because of the beard??

    • 5. Milhouse wrote:

      Excuse me? He is a ben Yisroel, what could be more special. And he is bound by rules much stronger and more important than those of the NYPD – mushba ve’omed mehar sinai.

    • 6. Anonymous wrote:

      Seriously, you’re a taxpayer? How much do you pay per year that you should worry where your substantial payments are going? You can’t even spell.

    • 7. Anon wrote:

      He knew what the regulations were when he wanted to attend the academy.

    • 8. China is paying wrote:

      Your tax money is going into much greater causes, such as changing the walk/don’t walk lights every two weeks so that you shouldn’t get bored when your waiting for the light.

  • 9. really? wrote:

    “But the public has a certain image of the police officer,” The only image i have of NYPD are of these fat incompetent donut eating ‘officers’. Great image. Got to think that a fit man with a beard is an upgrade.

    Reply
  • 10. Liberals VS Orthodox wrote:

    Even if this guy passes the lawsuit
    Frum officers with a beard will have may Internal Affairs complaints against them.

    Basically any argument with a liberal will result in an internal affair complaint.

    Reply
  • 11. NYC Tax payer wrote:

    I am very pleased to see that my tax dollars will be used for the protection of a mans civil rights and constitutional freedom of religion.

    Ray Kelly’s explanation of the NYPD image is racist and discriminatory. At present the image of a police officer is one who is either black or Italian. Nobody will be bothered to see a religious Jewish person in the police force. On the contrary they will feel more protected and safe when they see religious Jews in the police force. Many people are aware that currently there are a number of religious Jews although most without a beard in the police force.

    Reply
  • 12. Boo to Ray Kelly wrote:

    He says the public has a certain image of the police officer? That’s not the image portrayed by the officer at the Atlantic Av subway station who has a full arm of tatoos. He looks really gross, and not professional at all. But a beard, noooo Ray Kelly can’t allow that!

    Reply
  • 13. DaasTorah wrote:

    If he’s qualified and competent, if he wants to serve and protect then it seems the NYPD would want to take him. The beard claim is a poor claim. NYPD just doesn’t like Jews.

    Reply
  • 14. Yitzchok wrote:

    Proud of you my friend. About time these discriminitory practices were put to an end.

    Reply
  • 15. yanki wrote:

    Chochom.

    Abissel sechel on the NYPD’s part.

    They don’t want to have to accomodate other religions with beards, and that’s what they are –rightfully– afraid of. They can say – we did not even let a jewish officer with his beard. Please climb out of your box, dear commenters, and figure out the larger ramifications.

    Of course Ray Kelly would/should never say that, but that is and undisputable FACT.

    Feel free to disagree, but remeber your rants down the line when the inevidable happens. B”H the NYPD does quietly what many in NYC are afraid to do.

    Reply
  • 17. DOH wrote:

    The city said “the beard rule” was for the gas masks which came after 9/11…but the NYPD had this rule even before 9/11…so thats BS.
    2nd, I dont think he has a case, because he knew the rules before he joined. If your orthodox, and you work for Oscar Meyer meat market as a hot dog taster, can you sue, because they didnt provide kosher hot dogs?

    Reply

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