Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Police Require Orthodox Jewish Woman To Remove Wig For Arrest Photo

In Ramapo, New York, members of the town's Hasidic Jewish community are protesting action of the police department in its arrest of an Orthodox Jewish woman, Sarah Cohen. The woman, charged with welfare fraud, was required to remove her wig for an arrest photograph. Many Orthodox Jewish women who are married keep their heads covered in public with a wig as a sign of modesty. However, law enforcement agencies generally require suspects to remove hats, turbans, wigs, glasses and toupees for booking photos. Sunday's Lower Hudson Journal News, reported, surprisingly, that police in New York towns like Ramapo, Spring Valley and Bedford, all of which have large Hasidic populations, have no written procedures on how to deal with religious or cultural concerns in booking suspects. After the incident, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence apologized and called the police officer involved insensitive. The matter is being investigated and a report will be presented to the Town Board tomorrow. Police Chief Peter Brower says he will review departmental policies on the issue.