Savannah police ordered to cover tattoos

SAVANNAH -- Savannah-Chatham police Chief Willie Lovett doesn't have any problem with tattoos.

But at some point, he had to ink out a boundary line for control.

"I like tattoos - I don't have any, but it's body art," he said. "But this isn't an art gallery, it's a police department."

Lovett deployed a new policy June 8 requiring all metro police employees to conceal any visible tattoos.

"Employees will not have any tattoos or body art visible during duty hours, any time in uniform, or while performing a department function or representing the department in any capacity," the first paragraph of the policy reads.

"If there's nothing governing tattoos," Lovett said, "we'll get all kinds, all shapes - a little of everything."

Shortly after Lovett led his department on a quest to revive its status with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, he studied policies on employee appearance and uniforms and realized there was nothing governing tattoos.

"What you see is after doing some research and what we came up with," he said. "I thought that was a fair policy."

Employees now must conceal body art with makeup matching their skin color, a bandage or a long-sleeve shirt. They also can elect to wear a Tat Jacket, a mostly nylon sleeve that covers up an arm or leg, Lovett said.

Metro police spokeswoman Gena Moore said Lovett would not allow any officers to discuss the policy change for this story.

 

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