Savannah police ordered to cover tattoos

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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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fish2
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fish2 07/19/10 - 07:49 am
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Hospitals are doing the same

Hospitals are doing the same thing with health care personel especially nurses, cover up or pack up.

Nativeson1
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Nativeson1 07/19/10 - 07:54 am
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I don't have a problem with

I don't have a problem with that policy because when you work in the public service field you represent something greater than yourself...When I joined they even asked if you had tats, where were they, and then they looked at them..I have two, and if they were in a place not covered by uniform or offensive I mayhave not gotten the job.

SFARRIS
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SFARRIS 07/19/10 - 08:12 am
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That is an excellent idea,

That is an excellent idea, one in which RCSO should adopt as well. Tats are cool and all but dang.....Some of these cats just take it too far. You guys are cops, not cage fighters!

redapples
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redapples 07/19/10 - 08:26 am
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Agreed - policy sounds

Agreed - policy sounds appropriate.

datarelease
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datarelease 07/19/10 - 08:56 am
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Ok. Given the percentage of

Ok. Given the percentage of folks under the age of 30 with Tattoos, I give this policy about 5 years before the dept is drastically understaffed and the change is repealed or amended. In the mean time, we've got underground cage fighting rings popping up all over the place to due to lack of employment. YOU REPUBS! (/sarcasm)

datarelease
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datarelease 07/19/10 - 08:57 am
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.

.

Seriously_Really
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Seriously_Really 07/19/10 - 09:15 am
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I am heavily tattooed and

I am heavily tattooed and agree with this policy. I'm all for expressing yourself but your workplace isn't it-they become a distraction. Do what you want on your time but comply when your being paid to do a job-otherwise find something else. I currently work in a corporate office and prior to being hired I let them know that I was heavily tattooed so that it wasn't a surprise should they see me outside of the office or if it was a problem they could let me know ahead of time.

fatboyhog
1800
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fatboyhog 07/19/10 - 09:59 am
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RCSO only cares about

RCSO only cares about "physical" appearance. Gold teeth, shaved heads, and tattoos don't matter. That's much more professional than "physical" appearance.

fatboyhog
1800
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fatboyhog 07/19/10 - 10:00 am
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RCSO only cares about

RCSO only cares about "physical" appearance. Gold teeth, shaved heads, and tattoos don't matter. That's much more professional than "physical" appearance.

AWyld1
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AWyld1 07/19/10 - 10:33 am
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What a stupid policy and they

What a stupid policy and they may lose future great peace officers to other departments as well as current ones. I see a ACLU lawyer takng up this cause and costing Savannah taxpayers unnecessary coin (remember X-Mart?).

WiseOldMan
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WiseOldMan 07/19/10 - 10:45 am
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Body art is trendy now, but

Body art is trendy now, but maybe not in 20 years.
I am very liberal when it comes to fashion styles and trendy things, but Body Art is kinda permanent...

reader54
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reader54 07/19/10 - 11:38 am
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I believe that the policy is

I believe that the policy is unconstitutional. Freedom of Expression? Also, forbidding the officers from discussing the policy prohibits Freedom of Speech. I don't know; it's a fine line.

KingJames
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KingJames 07/19/10 - 11:49 am
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The Navy enacted such a

The Navy enacted such a policy a few years back. (Actually, the policy was in placed, but never really enforced). It seemed kind of crazy since getting tats for sailors is almost as common as getting drunk. It was taken very seriously, as I had a sailor who had her husband's name tattooed on her neck prior to the policy. Administrative remarks were placed in her personnel record and she was ordered to comply with the policy by not getting anymore tats that could not be covered while in uniform. Young sailors simply stopped getting as tats on their arms, necks, or faces. They then switched to tongue piercings!

KingJames
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KingJames 07/19/10 - 11:57 am
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Reader54, I'm not sure if

Reader54, I'm not sure if it's unconstitutional. People join law enforcement and know they have to maintain certain physical fitness standards (or at least they should). Wouldn't not maintaining the standards be freedom of expression? I don't know about you, but if a cop is going to chase down a criminal, I would prefer cops were within physical fitness standards so they could catch the bad guys without having a heart attack in the process. The argument of freedom of expression could be used to go against fitness standards by gaining weight and becoming physically unfit. I don't think the freedom of expression argument would win against set phsycial fitness standards, just like I don't think it would win against this new tattoo policy.

ArmedandLegal
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ArmedandLegal 07/19/10 - 12:04 pm
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Im on the fence about this

Im on the fence about this one - having visable tattoos (as silly as it seems) helps build repour with some of the people the police deal with. And what about undercover or narc units? Im going to assume the policy does not effect them as they have to look the "part" in that line of work.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 07/19/10 - 12:26 pm
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This policy won't last very

This policy won't last very long before the Savannah-Chatham attorney is served with a lawsuit and he tells the police chief to repeal the policy.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/19/10 - 01:11 pm
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Tats all over your face, 4

Tats all over your face, 4 inch holes in your ears, piercings all in your nose and lips, etc.... is not professional in any job, unless thats part of the job like a tat place! I will leave a restaurant when I get served by some nasty person looking like that. It ruins my appetitie. Keep that stuff on your own time, not when you are being paid to be professional and deal with the public.

ArmedandLegal
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ArmedandLegal 07/19/10 - 02:02 pm
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TakeAstand thats about as far

TakeAstand thats about as far end of the spectrum you can get. I work an IT job and I have full sleeve tattos - but I dont have anything clothing cant cover up and no piercings.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/19/10 - 06:49 pm
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Exactly Armedandlegal. You

Exactly Armedandlegal. You can compromise, thats what its all about, but thats not good enough for most people. Some people want to look all weird like how I explained and worse and force people to accept them. You want to be different, you get treated different, dont complain now. lol My hubby has a tat and so do many people I know, but they all can be covered when appropriately needed to be. My DR had plenty of them, but you would never know it as he covers them in professional setting when dealing with the public. I'm all for its your body, do what you want its your right, but its also other peoples rights to refuse to hire you for not looking professional or use your services or whatever when you are being paid for it.

AWyld1
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AWyld1 07/20/10 - 12:56 am
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Yeah let's tell that to all

Yeah let's tell that to all those world war 2 vets I see around town with tats on their forearms. If you cannot see past the tats then you are the one with the problem not them...

Angluvsherson
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Angluvsherson 07/20/10 - 07:31 am
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Freedom of speach also

Freedom of speach also expression if you want a tatoo get it where it can be covered I have many and I worked for a county Dept for many years who was none the wiser. I can show mine when I want to and also cover them when need to be covered, without wearing long sleaves in the middle of the summer!!!

NoHayManera
140
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NoHayManera 07/23/10 - 11:20 pm
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Alright, deny freedom of

Alright, deny freedom of speech to those sworn to protect it. Just as long as I can have those same officers at my beckon call, when I feel the need to display a crucifix in a jar of urine.

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