Chicago, IL, July 8, 2002 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed its satisfaction that the Sheriff's Office of Cook County, Illinois expeditiously reversed its decision barring Sergeant Larry Davidson, an Orthodox Jew, and Deputy Crystal Clark, a Muslim, from wearing their respective religious head coverings while on duty.
"While we understand the imperative of the Sheriff's Office requiring consistency among its uniformed personnel, in this instance we did not believe that permitting both Sergeant Davidson and Deputy Clark to wear religious head coverings posed an undue hardship," said Richard S. Hirschhaut, ADL's Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest Regional Director. "We are pleased that, upon reconsideration, the Sheriff's Office reversed this change in policy."
Consecutive articles from the July 2 and July 3, 2002 editions of the Chicago Tribune reflected a decision by the Sheriff's Office to bar Sergeant Davidson from wearing a yarmulke and Deputy Clark from covering her head with a religious scarf while on duty. The basis for these actions was a policy prohibiting the wearing of visible items of civilian or unapproved clothing with the uniform.
In response to these prohibitions, ADL hand-delivered a letter to Sheriff Michael F. Sheahan on July 3rd urging him to reverse the decision because the actions "were patently unfair and a burden on religious freedom." The letter further pointed out that under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 775 ILCS 35/10, the Sheriff's Office had to show "a compelling governmental interest" for its actions.
On July 5th, ADL received a faxed letter from the Sheriff's Office stating that the religious concerns of Sergeant Davidson and Deputy Clark had been resolved to their satisfaction and thanking ADL for its concern about both officers.