Chris Morgan, a West Des Moines police officer, must wear a long-sleeved shirt when it’s 90 degrees outside because of the tattoos on his forearms, says the Des Moines Register. “I get so hot out there when I’m directing traffic,” Morgan said. “I’ve sweated through my shirt and my vest.” Now, the Des Moines Police Department has joined police in West Des Moines and other Iowa cities in restricting body art.
The issue has the potential of affecting hiring or limiting an opening for conversations with residents, one official said. With tattoos becoming mainstream, more law enforcement agencies wrestle with how much art to allow on exposed areas of the body – if any. Stewart Barnes, president of the Des Moines police union, disagrees with the department’s policy, put in place last month. He says, “f you know that for the rest of your career you are going to have to wear a long-sleeved shirt or have your tattoos removed, you might think twice about applying for the job. My tattoos give me common ground with young people,” said Barnes, 48. “They come up to me and talk to me about tattoos.”