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Church State Issues

Chandler Police - People with tattoos don't have 1st Amendment rights????

Jul 14, 2014

Arizona Republic

I don't see any reason to make second class citizens out of people who have tattoos and deny them the opportunity to be a cop.

If we really are a country with morals and rights everybody should have the same rights, including people with tattoos.

It sounds like Police Chief Sean Duggan may be violating the 1st Amendment rights of people with tattoos.

If we are going to prevent nut jobs from becoming cops, maybe they should ban Christians??? Of course that would also be a violation of the 1st Amendment.

Chandler police chief draws a hard line against visible tattoos

Rule requires Chandler police officers to cover up visible ink while working

Jim Walsh, The Republic | 7:46 a.m. MST July 14, 2014

It's not hard to find tattoos on people these days, but one place you won't see them is on the neck, face, arms or hands of a Chandler police officer.

Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan said he wasn't attempting to push back against cultural trends, or follow the lead of the U.S. Army, when he toughened the department's policy on tattoos. Chandler's tougher policy, which went into effect May 1, no longer allows officers to display visible tattoos while on duty. It eliminated a grandfather clause that allowed officers hired before November 2008 to display non-offensive tattoos.

Duggan is adamant that he wants his officers to look neat and professional, and that he is setting a standard that reflects his department's culture. Officers who have tattoos on their arms must wear long-sleeve shirts. A couple of officers with tattoos on their fingers must cover them with Band-Aids.

"Policing is an honorable profession. It requires a standard of behavior based on trust and respect,'' Duggan said. "It starts with the way we look, what we say and how we say it.'' [since when are people with tattoos dishonorable people???]

A more restrictive policy adopted by the U.S. Army on March 31 bars tattoos on a soldier's head, face, neck, wrists, hands and fingers. By late June, Army recruiting stations in Phoenix reported they were turning away nearly 30 prospective enlistees a week because of the new restrictions.

The Army's policy is still less restrictive than Chandler police's policy, however, because it still allows a limited number of tattoos on the arms and legs.

Applicants for jobs as officers in Chandler are told about the policy up front and must decide whether the Chandler police culture appeals to them, Duggan said.

"I believe having someone in a tailored, pressed uniform with no tattoos is the appearance I prefer,'' he said.

Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini and reporter Richard Ruelas discuss a ban on tattoos in law enforcement.

Valley police departments have a wide variety of tattoo policies. Whether an officer who responds to a call at your house might have a tattoo depends on where you live. The Arizona Department of Public Safety requires that all tattoos be covered. The Tempe Police Department allows tattoos that are not too large or offensive on an officer's arms or legs. Tattoos cannot cover more than one-third of a body part and cannot depict nudity or hate groups. [Wow these piggies sure have a lot of silly rules about tattoos, don't they have any criminals to hunt down???]

Phoenix police allow visible tattoos that are non-offensive on the arms and hands, but not the legs, while on duty. While in civilian attire, tattoos can't be more than 6 inches above the ankle bone. Exceptions can be granted for special operational situations, such as working undercover.

Gilbert police allow non-offensive tattoos on the arms only.

"It's important to remember that decisions you make today will last a lifetime,'' Duggan said.

In contrast to such specific rules, the Mesa and Glendale police departments have no formal tattoo policies.

All departments bar displays of offensive tattoos that depict nudity or declare affiliation with a hate group or other organization that would conflict with the mission of police, including the Nazi SS and swastika, the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Brotherhood and the names of criminal street gangs. [How about religious groups, who hate gays, like Christians??? Many nutty Christians want to carry out the word of their Bible and stone gay folks to death!!!]

Detective Steve Berry, a Mesa police spokesman, said job applications at police agencies routinely ask if applicants have been a member of such organizations. He said police screen out applicants with inappropriate affiliations as part of thorough background investigations, a component of the rigorous process for selecting recruits.

"Our practices are the same as anyone else. We just don't have a written policy,'' Berry said. "If you have a neck tattoo or a face tattoo, we wouldn't hire you.''

Lt. Mike Pooley, a Tempe police spokesman, said police are likely to have more problems with an officer wearing a swastika than with the mere presence of a tattoo. "Luckily, we haven't had to face that problem yet, and hopefully we don't,'' he said.

Pooley said he knows of at least one Tempe officer who has sleeve tattoos on his arms, but that officer willingly complies with the department's policies against large tattoos by wearing a long-sleeve shirt while on duty.

"We can't tell our officers that they can't have tattoos. When they come to work, they have to meet our policy,'' Pooley said.

Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, president of the Chandler Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association, said he has heard only one complaint about the new policy from officers in the labor group. [Tom Lovejoy is the Chandler cop who killed his dog by leaving it in a hot car. He was never charged with any crimes, like civilians are]

"As trends change, I think the department has an obligation to update or modify policies on appearance,'' he said.

Lovejoy noted that tattoos have grown in size, have become more elaborate and more personal to people, and have become mainstream.

"Even when we were kids, who did you associate with elaborate tattoos? Street thugs or motorcycle gangs," he said. "We have to get out of that mindset.''

But he added that if an officer were covered with tattoos, "that might make you less likely to open your door at 3 a.m.'' [Hell, I won't open a door for any thug with a gun and a badge at any time.]