By BI: Two months after asking Columbus’ mayor and police chief to reconsider the head-scarf ban for female Muslim police-officer candidates, a local lawyer is asking again for the city to re-evaluate its policy. (The ban is in place for the safety of police officers. Wearing a scarf wrapped around your head and neck makes it easy for a suspect to strangle the officer)
Dispatch Frederick M. Gittes, who is also president of Protecting Ohio’s Employees, recently sent another letter to Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Police Chief Kim Jacobs and Mayor-elect Andrew J. Ginther. Gittes said neither Coleman nor Jacobs responded to his letter sent in October.
“I never heard back from you, never received an acknowledgment,” Gittes said on Wednesday, when he sent another letter. “I think this issue needs to be reconsidered and discussed.” The new letter calls the ban “unwise, unnecessary and counterproductive.”
The issue was raised in April when The Dispatch wrote about Ismahan Isse, a Somali-American who left the Columbus police academy in March. She told the paper the main reason was because she wouldn’t be allowed to wear her headscarf.
Jacobs will not be responding to either letter because of an August complaint that the Ohio chapter of the designated terrorist group Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, Columbus police spokesman. That case remains open.
CAIR filed an employment-discrimination complaint over Columbus officials’ refusal to allow female officers to wear head scarves. It filed the complaint after Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman recently told the Columbus Dispatch that he supports the headbag ban.
In the October letter, the two groups said that statements made by Coleman and Jacobs in a Dispatch story that month “fail to recognize the importance of a diverse and representative police force and condone prejudice, however unintentionally.”
The story quoted Coleman as saying: “When officers go out into the community, they should be identified as Columbus police officers, not Muslim police officers, not Christian police officers, not Jewish police officers, not Hindus, Baptists or anything else.”
Police Chief Jacobs is quoted as saying: “I want whoever pulls up to the scene as being recognized as a Columbus police officer that doesn’t turn anyone off.” He was quoted warning against hijab-wearing officers “turning anyone off” and stating, “If it’s a head scarf next week, it might be a burqa the next week.”