Aurora, Colorado police officers ordered to cover or remove tattoos.

Police officers in Aurora have been given a new regulation:…

Police officers in Aurora have been given a new regulation: Cover your tattoos or have them removed.

“Some people find tattoos a bit offensive or distracting,” said Aurora Police Detective Shannon Lucy.

The new policy started June 15.

I was very taken aback,” said Aurora Police Sgt. Graham Dunne. “I am offended by it; I take it personally.”

Dunne said it’s not so much the inconvenience of the sleeves, or the heat that it generates, as it is being told that he looks unprofessional.

“It was often a conversation starter for people. I never had anyone who was offended by my tattoos or taken aback by my tattoos,” said Dunne. “It was always positive.”

Lucy said Aurora police will still hire people with tattoos.

“But they will need to understand when they come here what the policy is and they will need to be covered,” said Lucy.

“I would like to see the department focus more on physical fitness standards than tattoos on a officer,” said Dunne. “The public wants an officer who comes to help them to be physically fit, they don’t really care if they have a military or patriotic tattoo on their arm.”

Officers have the option to purchase long-sleeve shirts for $30, makeup kits for $30 or a pair of slide-on half sleeves to wear under their uniform for $20 if they don’t want to get the tattoo removed, which could cost thousands of dollars.

Source: Deb Stanley for 7News/The Denver Channel.

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  • Eric

    While self-expression is a vital right, Courts have found there are limits for public officials and their agents, especially with very personal — and often very provacative — artistic symbolism — and personal activites (e.g., “sex, drugs, and…”), such as displayed by tatoos. When I was in California’s POST Basic Academy, a police chief asked our class, “What does the symbol of the police badge represent?” There were many answers, but that chief’s asserted we consider the following: “It is a symbol of public trust.” In the context of this defintion, it can be argued the uniform is also a symbol of public trust, and, by further extension, the public need is for as universal a symbolism as possible. Tatoos and related body are so personal they have the opposite message because “tats” assert individual right to act from the “spirit-within” as opposed to the “law from without” (i.e., Society-at-large). Thus, it is probably reasonable that departments have the right to restrict tats, body art and related personal symbols of expression exhibited by on-duty LEOs. In fact, law enforcement’s very special role in society probably implies an even greater right on the part of Department’s to control very personal types of self-expression by individual officers on duty. Off duty??? Well, “that” is personal, and it should be their personal business (e.g., “tats,” “wild parties”), but, again, this brings up the issue of “limits.” How “wild” is acceptable for cops? For example, can a cop work part time in the adult industry? Well, the Courts, again, have shown their are limits because of law enforcement’s special role in society, especially with regard to “non-mainsream” forms of entertainment and the opportunties to “fall into” vice, “fall under” blackmail, etc. Again, reasonable limits have been found to be imposed on the off-duty activities of LEOs. For example, I believe it was LA County, but there was a female sheriff’s deputy who did a “strip-tease,” and she was fired, and the Court upheld the employment termination. Tatoos, sex, “street culture” carried too far are all examples where the Courts have upheld the termination of LEO employment when it created controversy. Thus, cover the “tats” and keep personal life PERSONAL and outside of work and reasonably “under-the-radar,” except, maybe the “narcs.” But, consider, the public gives great freedom of action to cops on duty: high speed chases, putting ordinary members of the public under detention, arrest, “no-knock” warrants in “special circumstances,” etc., so cops needs to make the public feel power hasn’t been given to the “thugs” by looking like them (Hey, “taste” is in the eye of the beholder and the civil litigant!). Again, the public — most of it — looks to LEOs to “set an example” and be a “hero” when needed. A German duty boot was right, “Made for Heros, Be One.” So, look like a hero, be one and cover the “tats” at work.