Survey: Civilians not bothered by tattoos on officers

The agency is still evaluating its current tattoo policy, and will compare the results to scientific national surveys

By Eppie Pallangyo
St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

TOPEKA, Kan. — The results are in from a Kansas Highway Patrol survey conducted in January to gauge the public’s perceptions of tattoos in law enforcement.

More than 21,500 people, shared their opinion in the three-week nationwide poll.

“That was surprising. We didn’t think we were going to get that much traction out of it,” said Trooper Stephen La Row of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The current uniform policy prohibits troopers from having a visible tattoo while wearing an agency-provided uniform.

“The overall consensus on many of the questions was that people were not bothered by law enforcement officers’ or civilian workers’ tattoos, provided they are not offensive,” according to the Kansas Highway Patrol’s website.

Of the people polled, 69 percent thought the highway patrol should not have a policy that would ban visible tattoos — 28 percent disagreed.

In addition, 70 percent didn’t think tattoos would distract from a trooper’s professionalism, while 26 percent thought it would make an impact.

“If you walk around and look at the culture today, you see tattoos everywhere, so I don’t think you would be too terribly surprised to see that people were — I wouldn’t say indifferent, but didn’t consider troopers with tattoos a big issue,” La Row said.

Fifty percent of those polled had tattoos, with 48 percent of those having visible tattoos.

Several troopers who have been with the agency for more than 20 years have visible tattoos since they were grandfathered in prior to the current policy.

“One of the comments we get a lot is that the military (personnel) have tattoos. While that may be true, we still hire a lot of military personnel that don’t have tattoos in areas that can be seen on a short-sleeved shirt,” La Row said.

The agency is still evaluating its current tattoo policy, and will compare the results of the survey to scientific national surveys for comparative analysis, according to its website.

“The results are a part of the dialogue. ... The superintendent hasn’t made a decision one way or another,” La Row said. “It will be a consideration he will have to take if he does make a change to that policy.”

Copyright 2016 the St. Joseph News-Press 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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