NOPD Revises Tattoo Policy, Allowing Visible Tattoos on Arms

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - There’s encouraging news for New Orleans police officers who have visible tattoos. The department’s policy on body ink has been revised.

Tattoos are an artist form of expressing one’s individuality; and body ink has increasingly become more acceptable in the workplace.

That’s why agencies representing New Orleans police officers are pleased the department’s tattoo policy has been revised.

“At the same time, it was a policy that we felt that we didn’t need, to begin with,” Police Association of New Orleans President Mike Glasser said.

Previously, the policy forced officers to cover tattoos between their wrists and elbows; as well as any tattoo that could be considered offensive or political in nature.  The new policy still has restrictions.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas explained, “We’re going to maintain the ban against body art; which is like your whole arm tattooed. We’re going to maintain the ban on visible tattoos on your neck or on the back of your hand.”

The top cop says the department will only allow small forearm tattoos, no larger than 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches; and no more than one tattoo on each forearm.

Ink on the upper arm should be partially covered by short sleeves.

“I think it’s the wrong time, and the wrong thing to do,” Glasser said.

He says any tattoo restriction during a time of high attrition, retention and recruitment struggles creates more challenges for the department.

“We have a lot of serious things to be concerned about. This isn’t one of them.”

Serpas countered, “The truth of the matter is, the tattoo policy never has and never will have any impact on hiring. Our policy specifically does not speak to a tattoo prohibiting you from being hired. It’s just if you have one that’s now in violation of policy you have to cover it.”

Both sides are pleased a compromise has been reached.

“When we can compromise, when we can find common ground on what’s important to the officers, and what’s important to the leadership, I always want to find that; and when I can I’ll act upon it,” Serpas explained.

PANO hopes to one day have the tattoo policy repealed all together.

However, Superintendent Serpas says the policy promotes a professional image which he believes in.

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