A new requirement that Anne Arundel County, Md., police personnel cover up their tattoos – even if it forces bike patrol or animal control officers to don long sleeves, pants, or turtlenecks in scorching heat – has the rank and file hot and bothered, reports the Baltimore Sun. The policy, among the strictest in the state, requires that all personnel, including volunteers, cover up visible tattoos when they are on duty. The officers union has filed a grievance, saying the measure is too stringent and could hamper recruitment efforts, especially among military veterans.
“When you add the long-sleeve shirt and tie or turtleneck with bulletproof vest and gun belt, it makes for very hot and uncomfortable conditions,” said Cpl. O’Brien Atkinson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Across the state, police departments vary in their stance on tattoos. Whereas Montgomery County takes an any-tattoo-anywhere approach, Baltimore County and city prohibit police from displaying tattoos. Police departments in Los Angeles and San Diego have ordered their rank-and-file to cover tattoos while working. Houston’s ban requires officers to wear winter gear year-round or have tattoos removed. The Oklahoma City police chief’s anti-tattoo mandate was tossed out this year after the union argued that it had not been negotiated.