10/20/2008

Texas police told to cover tattoos


Kevin McAleese, a New York City police detective, shows his tattoo memorial for his brother, firefighter Brian McAleese who was killed on 9/11. (AP Photo)

Related article:
Police tattoo bans called 'unreasonable'

Associated Press

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — There will be a police cover-up in Corpus Christi beginning Nov. 1 — cover-up of officers' tattoos.

The department is implementing a new policy to require officers to cover their tattoos while on duty. Capt. Todd Green said the agency's rules manual didn't include guidance on tattoos and more people have them than 15 years ago.

"If we didn't address it, it could become problematic," Green told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "We had some complaints from citizens. Because of the tattoos, they weren't really sure that the other person in uniform was an actual police officer, and they were concerned about it."

Patrolman David Saldana, who has as many as 13 tattoos, said he is not bothered by the new rule.

"We have officers with them, but all of the tattoos that I have are underneath my shirt so it really doesn't affect me," Saldana said.

Sgt. Mike Staff, president of the Corpus Christi Police Officers Association, said about 15 percent of the department's 350 officers will have to wear long-sleeve shirts supplied by the department or take other action to cover or remove their tattoos.

"The biggest reaction is coming from uniform officers who may think that it is being directed toward them," Green said. "It actually covers all Police Department employees."

Staff said the association would like to see a grandfather clause for officers who already have tattoos. Police Chief Bryan Smith is considering the proposal.

Smith said the department is working to increase its professionalism. The new policy also prohibits body piercings.

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