DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Police Department is considering a new policy restricting officers’ tattoos and body art, according to a survey sent out to all officers this week.
“The Denver Police Department is in the process of drafting a Mandatory Conceal Tattoo Policy, affecting future new hires as well as active duty officers,” said the note sent Wednesday from the department’s Planning, Research and Support Division.
The note then asked officers to respond to a survey identifying where on their bodies they have tattoos.
“In order to write a comprehensive policy, it is important to get feedback from all sworn personnel prior to implementation,” the notice states.
If the department ends up requiring officers to cover up their tattoos, as suggested by the Wednesday notice, it would be the latest in a long line of law enforcement agencies taking such action.
In 2010, the Aurora Police Department implemented a policy telling officers they had to cover up their tattoos while on duty or have them removed. Officers were given the choice of wearing long sleeve shirts, using makeup kits to conceal their body art, or get them removed completely. At the time, Chief Dan Oates said for some segments of the community, “tattoos are a barrier to building trust.” Oates said some tattoos can be perceived as “intimidating.”
In Montana, the Great Falls Police Department tells applicants they cannot have tattoos or body art that suggests racism, sexism or gang overtones. They have to cover tattoos on their neck, head, face, ears, hands and fingers while on duty.
In 2008, the Des Moines Police Department in Iowa adopted a new policy restricting tattoos and body art.
In 2011, the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Florida implemented a new policy banning visible tattoos on officers.
Nationwide, officers facing tattoo cover up policies have complained wearing long sleeved shirts in summer heat is uncomfortable and hot. Other officers have said their visible tattoos were conversation starters with citizens.
As far as the Denver Police Department goes, Cmdr. Matt Murray told CBS4, “The issue keeps coming up. We have no real policy about tattoos in the police department. This is a pretty common issue that’s surfacing around the country.”
DPD officers have until April 23 to inform the department on how many tattoos they have and where they are located on their bodies.
“This is purely just gathering research so that the department can write a policy and make a determination about how we should move forward in the future regarding officers with tattoos,” said Murray.