Honolulu Police Department approves new tattoo policy

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:17:15 AM HST   Updated On: Oct 31 2013 08:04:54 PM HST

The Honolulu Police Department is officially frowning upon tattoos. Under a new policy approved Sept. 23, officers on official duty will be required to cover up their body art with a long-sleeve shirt or makeup that matches their skin color.

The new policy is scheduled to take effect July 1 of next year, just in time for summer.

Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.

"You see a lot of officers outside, they're working in the hot sun, (and) they have tattoos," said Honolulu resident Beverly Neely, 23, who has tattoos on her back, arms and leg. "I mean somebody's going to get a heat stroke."

The Police Department had no comment about the new policy Thursday, but provided a copy of it to KITV4.

The policy reads as follows: "No officer shall have any visible body art, tattoo, body ornament, intentional scarring or mutilation, or dental ornament while he or she is on duty, in uniform, or representing the department in any official capacity."

HPD says short-sleeve uniform shirts cost $87, while the long-sleeve version costs $100. Officers pay 25 percent of the cost, which means purchasing a long-sleeve shirt will cost tattooed officers $3.25 more. However, officers who choose to use makeup will have to pay for it on their own.

Richie Lucero of Black Cat Tattoo in Chinatown has been inking body art for the past decade. He says as employer tattoo policies become more common, more people are asking for tattoos to be placed in discreet locations that can be easily covered by clothing.

"We do get some people like that, and it's unfortunate that people would infringe on people's freedom to get tattoos," said Lucero. "I don't think it makes you a better or worse person at all."  

One of Lucero's customers, Jareht Reavely, 24, understands why HPD would implement a policy against tattoos, but still believes the policy is outdated.

"I do understand the policy if there's anything offensive or vulgar," said Reavely, "but, I do not believe a tattoo will hinder their ability to serve and protect."    

Police departments on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island do not have tattoo policies in place, although Big Island police are considering a change, according to spokeswoman Chris Loos.

There is also no tattoo policy for state sheriffs under the Department of Public Safety, or the Honolulu Fire Department.

The union that represents police officers in Hawaii was unavailable for comment.


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