OKLAHOMA CITY – A more than 10-year-old policy is drawing in some critics.
Since 2007, the Oklahoma City Police Department has denied new applicants who have any visible tattoos on their bodies. The Fraternal Order of Police said the rules need to change.
“Tattoos in 2018 aren’t what they were in 1998, 20 years ago,” said Mark Nelson, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The design and tools that come with the art of tattooing have evolved throughout the years. Nelson said, now, it’s time for the city’s rules on tattoos to evolve, as well.
“Part of the policy has been in effect for a while and which is no tattoos on the neck, hand or face,” Nelson said.
The department said no visible tattoos for new hires. It’s a policy that was inked in 2007, and the agency’s top cop agrees with it.
“I’m not against tattoos. We still hire people with tattoos, and some of them have a lot of tattoos but they can’t be visible while they’re working,” said Chief Bill Citty.
Citty said anything below the elbow disqualifies an applicant.
“The majority of the population that we police, they do not have tattoos. Some people are offended by tattoos,” he said.
Citty said he personally doesn’t find most skin art offensive but he can’t speak for everyone. On the other hand, the FOP said the policy is affecting the department’s ability to recruit for 125 to 130 positions.
“We’re turning down applicants, and I think a little more alarming for us is qualified applicants,” Nelson said.
Citty said the rule has nothing to do with recruitment and the numbers show hiring is fine.
However, both the department and the FOP said, unlike a tattoo, the policy isn’t permanent.
“I’m always up for discussion, if somebody can bring me an alternative, I think, that will overcome what I told you, but I haven’t see in yet,” Citty said.
Nelson said they’re open to any new changes than the current stance, saying no visible tattoos is just not practical.