Polk County Sheriff's Office changes tattoo policy

7:14 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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Polk County, Florida-- Polk County Sheriff's Office is leaving their mark on a new tattoo policy in order to encourage more applicants to apply for deputy positions.

Sheriff Grady Judd said the previous policy did not allow tattoos to be shown while deputies were in their uniform. The uniforms are short sleeved. 

Polk County Sheriff Judd is not waiting for the ink to dry; he is changing his tattoo policy now, so he does not lose any qualified applicants. The new policy will allow applicants to apply who have tattoos in more visible areas as long as they can be hidden with a long-sleeved uniform. They will issue long-sleeved shirts to wear under their standard uniform. 

On the Sheriff's Office Facebook page on Tuesday it said:

"As you know, we take great pride in providing professional law enforcement services - our members are the best of the best. And with each New Year, we are eager to have a fresh start with new ideas and ways to improve our service to our residents.

With this in mind, in 2014 the PCSO will begin to modify its hiring policy prohibiting tattoos. The PCSO will allow tattoos with the stipulation they remain covered, and not visible, while on duty. 

Applicants who were once concerned about being considered are encouraged to contact our Human Resources Section and discuss the new modifications and learn how they can become part of our team.

You never have a second chance to make a good first appearance; and representing the PCSO requires our members to look and be their best. And with the modifications to the policy, we know we can continue to be a professional law enforcement agency and find qualified candidates who happen to have a little ink!"

Hillsborough County Sheriff's office has had that similar policy in place for ten years. 

"If applicants have tattoos that can be covered up with long-sleeves and they do not mind wearing the long-sleeved shirts to hide them all year long, then we encourage them to apply," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Cristal Bermudez.  "We certainly have not turned anyone away for having a tattoo."

Tampa Police Department's spokesperson said it has a strict policy. They do not allow tattoos. If officers have tattoos, they must be covered up with the shot-sleeved uniform. 

St. Petersburg Police Department spokesperson said they used to have a more liberal tattoo policy that allowed their officers to show-off any tattoos. As of the last several months, in mid-2013, the policy changed to be more conservative and officers must wear long-sleeves to cover up their forearm tattoos. 

Clay Montgomery, a tattoo artist for 20 years with Atomic Tattoo stores in several cities and states encourages his customers to get whatever they want, but to also think of their future.

"I advise them to not limit themselves," said Montgomery. "My experience with military guys who come in to get a tattoo are thinking about the tattoo, like a military experience or tour of duty or lost friend. They are not thinking about one day I might be a cop."

He said many military members have tattoos and come in to get more. He said some of them are specific with where to put them because of their day-jobs.

"I have tattooed a guy from Treasure Island PD who is from wrist up, both arms covered in tattoos. I know guys from Pinellas County Sheriff's Office who have tattoos on their forearms and are just required to wear long sleeves."

Montgomery has been judged before because of his body tattoos.  He has some ink in easily visible places, such as his hand and the back of his neck.

"I have them on my back, arms, and legs, but when I was younger and I had my daughter and I took her to Girl Scout events, I would volunteer. The moms there who knew me were fine with my tattoos, but the moms who did not know me would whisper and say 'why is he here?'. The other moms would respond with 'look, he is here, he is involved.'"

I just tell some clients about these situations because people judge and not all employers give jobs to people with tattoos.  

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