Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?

 When you are looking for a new potential career, one of the first questions you may ask if you have tattoos is “Will I have to cover or hide my tattoos?” Since there are many career paths that may not let you show your tattoos, this is a valid question for those who have visible tattoos. We have gathered everything you need to know regarding if police officers can have tattoos and what guidelines they must follow.

In many states, police officers can have visible tattoos. This has changed over the years as tattoos have become more acceptable. Previously, most states would require tattoos to be hidden. However, there are still some areas that may have strict tattoo policies and may not allow visible tattoos. Therefore, it’s essential to check with your particular area.

Changes to Policies Regarding Tattoos

Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?

In our society, tattoos have become more acceptable than they were previously. Years ago, all police officers had to hide any visible tattoos in most states. If you had tattoos on your arm and you were a police officer, you would have to wear long sleeves year-round to hide your tattoos. In the past, other careers have been similar and required tattoos to be hidden.

In our world today, tattoos are not as forbidden in the workplace as they once were. Many career paths, like becoming a police officer, are now starting to allow tattoos more. Tattoos are not always required to be hidden while at the workplace anymore.

With this change in our society, police officers can have tattoos in many areas and do not have to hide them. Many states will simply have guidelines on what the tattoos can consist of and what type of tattoos aren’t allowed for police officers (instead of banning all tattoos).

Another thing that you need to keep in mind is some police departments will have policies regarding police officers and law enforcement professionals getting tattoos after they are hired. Some departments may still hire you if you have tattoos, but they may not allow you to get any new tattoos once you have been hired.

However, you do want to ensure that you look up your particular city or area’s regulations on tattoos. Every area may be slightly different regarding their policy on tattoos for their police officers and other law enforcement professionals. For example, there are some areas that police officers at the state level will need to hide visible tattoos. It is always better to check with your city or state first.

Law Enforcement Debate on Tattoos

Although our society’s acceptance of tattoos has come a long way, tattoo policies are still a highly debated subject in law enforcement. With some cities putting strict bans on tattoos, some law enforcement professionals have become outraged over the new bans. There have even been some police officers that have left their departments and gotten positions at different departments that don’t have bans on tattoos.

Many police officers claim that their tattoos help the public and certain members of their community relate to them more. Some people in the community may even trust a police officer more if they have tattoos, especially in troubled areas.

When asked for an explanation on why they are banning tattoos, some police departments have mentioned that they think police officers will be respected more without visible tattoos. One department said that if a police officer appears professional (which includes no tattoos), the community will be more likely to respect him as a police officer.

Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?

No matter where you stand on the debate, there are police departments out there for everyone. Many police departments allow tattoos. However, there are also quite a few departments that are adapting strict policies on visible tattoos. If you have visible tattoos yourself, you’ll want to look for a police department without a tattoo policy.

Things to Keep in Mind for Your Tattoos

Although many states allow their police officers and other law enforcement professionals to have tattoos, there are some things you need to keep in mind for your tattoos and potential new tattoos if you want to become a police officer.

You want to make sure that any upcoming tattoos you may get are professional. For many states, if your tattoos are vulgar, include nudity or could be taken offensively, you will likely be required to cover your tattoos. This includes any phrases or artwork that could be considered racist or offend a certain class of people.

When you are a police officer, you will come in contact with a wide variety of people in your community. These people will likely differ from backgrounds and race. This is why it is essential that all tattoos be professional and not be offensive for any particular type of person.

This means you also want to avoid any tattoos that may include swear words that are easy to see since many people may be offended by them. You also want to avoid getting tattoos in certain places. Most states will not allow a police officer or law enforcement professional to have tattoos on their hands, neck, or face. Covering tattoos in these places can also be a lot more difficult than other places (like your arms).

Check out this article to find out why police officers drive with their windows down:

Reasons Tattoos Have Not Been Allowed

There are many reasons why tattoos have been banned from some police departments, even in today’s society. While other industries may not allow tattoos because they don’t think they look professional in the workplace, law enforcement has other reasons why tattoos are not allowed, which you may not have expected.

One major reason why tattoos are banned from many police departments is for the protection of the police officer. This is especially true for any type of undercover police officers. If you are working on a very dangerous case or if you are going undercover for a criminal case, visible tattoos can put you at risk. Visible tattoos can make you easily noticed and remembered in the future. They tend to make you stand out more.

For example: If you are going undercover for a drug-related case, a drug dealer may recognize you as a police officer easily from your visible tattoos if you’ve previously had an encounter with this same suspect. If your tattoos were visible when you first encountered the suspect, he would typically instantly remember your first encounter and then he would know that you’re a police officer, which would put you in danger.

Since police officers deal with large amounts of people and are regularly involved in tense situations, it is important for police officers to remain as neutral in situations as possible. This is especially true for a situation that may contain a lot of conflict. Depending on the tattoos, visible tattoos can make it difficult for police officers to remain neutral and could even possibly increase the amount of conflict (depending on the subject of the tattoo). 

Can Police Officers Have Tattoos?

If you are thinking about becoming a police officer and you currently have visible tattoos, we highly recommend asking your current city about their tattoo policy. If your area has a strict policy on tattoos, you’ll want to strongly think about the effort it will take to cover your tattoos, including wearing long sleeves in the summer.

As our society continues to change and grow, it is likely that more and more states will start loosening their policies on tattoos for law enforcement professionals. However, it’s important to also remember that tattoo policies are partially put in place to help protect the police officer from any possible danger as well.

Related Questions

What training is required to become a police officer?

To become a police officer, you need to have two years of a college education. Once you’ve obtained your two years of college education, then you will need to apply for the police academy. If you are accepted, you will go through large amounts of physical training while attending the police academy.

Do I need to have a bachelor’s degree to become a police officer?

No, many states do not require you to have a bachelor’s degree to become a police officer (although some states may be different). Most states only require two years of college education and then also going through the police academy (which consists of more physical training).

However, if you want to work in law enforcement on a federal level, then you will need to get a bachelor’s degree. If you plan on becoming a police officer, we recommend getting a bachelor’s degree to help yourself have more advancement opportunities.

What type of salary do police officers earn?

The salary that police officers earn will highly depend on the specific area that you are located in. Heavily populated areas and large cities will generally have larger salaries for police officers. However, it will also depend on the amount of school and experience you have.

Typically, the salary for police officers ranges between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. Most police officers make at least $50,000. However, there are advancement opportunities available for police officers to help you increase your salary as well.

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To learn how to best prepare and study for your police exam click here.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.