Cops and tattoos


letter on today’s page addressed an issue that we’re going to face more and more as today’s youth enter the job market:

Tattoos shouldn’t be taboo for troopers
    I am writing this in response to W.N. Kennedy’s letter, “Lawmakers should hire more troopers,”
    I agree 100 percent; however, some rules in the state trooper hiring regulations are outdated and therefore prohibit qualified individuals from obtaining a job.
    Around May 2006, I sat down for an informal interview with a state trooper to see if I should pursue a career with the Highway Patrol. I was a summer semester away from obtaining my associate’s degree and had five years of service with the Marines under my belt.
    The trooper liked what he saw; unfortunately, I have two inoffensive tattoos on my right forearm. And the rule for state troopers is that no tattoos will be showing while in uniform.
    He and another trooper suggested that I just get the tattoos removed. However, they were unaware of the cost and process of getting them removed. I told them I was willing to wear long sleeves year round, but that was against regulations.
    South Carolina really needs to get with the times. Tattoos are not taboo anymore. More and more people of all ages are getting them. If a person is qualified, tattoos should not be a factor in any hiring process. Tattoos do not inhibit a person’s ability to perform tasks and get his or her job done correctly.

This reminds me of two things I noticed about the NYPD during the sweltering week I spent in the cityCoptatoo2
during the 2004 Republican Convention:

  • New York has more cops than I thought existed in the entire world.
  • A lot of them have major, in-your-face tattoos.

Sometimes, as with the officer depicted above and in the inset detail, they were decorated to the point that you noticed the tattoos more than the uniform. It was distracting until you got used to it. But I didn’t notice in impairing their ability to do their duty.

Oh, as a postscript I should probably point out that distracting images tend to multiply in our memories. While I know I saw more than one cop with tattoos that week, they were the exception. Looking back through all my images that week (and there are lots of cops in those pictures) most were not thus decorated where you could see it (and thereby probably less threatening to the older tourists):


4 thoughts on “Cops and tattoos

  1. Karen McLeod

    What can I say. The rules for the most conservative jobs always lag behind the cultural change. Has anyone thought that we could save a lot on heating and air conditioning if the inside temperature matched the outside temperature a little more? Of course, to do that, we would have to change dress regulations a little. Masculine business dress would probably cause heat stroke in the summer, and the dress for both men and women might need to be bulked up a bit in winter.

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  3. Zach

    I agree with you 100% on the tattoo policy. I have three tattoos, one on each bicept and one on my left forearm, and i am aslo 1 semester away from getting my associates degree in criminal justice. all my tats are non offensive, yet in my state, RI, most departments require that i would have to cover them up. If anything tattoos will make offecers blend more with civilians when under cover, or in plain clothes. I will never get my tats removed, and dont care if i have to cover them up, but the point is that it is an out dated mandate the requires officers to cover them up, and it should be changed. It does not effect performance, and as you said tattoos are no long reserved for criminals and bikers. Now even the “upper class” has tattoos, and i dont see how it would “sully” a department. Ooh-rah, and good luck

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