New Orleans Officers to Show a Bit of Ink

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New Orleans is known for its eclectic citizens, great food, and wild holiday celebrations. But what many may not know about the southern city is it was harsh on it’s tattoo laws — until just recently.

Police officers throughout the city have reason to rejoice: The department’s policy on tattoos has changed for the better. Americans spend around $1.65 billion dollars on tattoos every year; it’s their way of artistically expressing themselves and making one unique.

Body ink has become increasingly popular, with an estimated 45 million Americans boasting at least one tattoo. Because of it’s popularity, this has put new societal pressure on the work environment. Most of the time when businesses have a strict no-ink policy, employees have to go through great pains to cover up their ink.

New Orleans police officers are now pleased that the department's tattoo policy has finally been revised.
New Orleans police officers are now pleased that the department’s tattoo policy has finally been revised.

But agencies representing New Orleans police officers are now pleased that the department’s tattoo policy has finally been revised.

“At the same time, it was a policy that we felt that we didn’t need to begin with,” said Mike Glasser, Police Association of New Orleans President.

The former policy mandated that all officers cover their tattoos from their wrists to their elbows, along with any tattoo the department deemed offensive or political in any nature.

Artists create tattoos by injecting ink into a person’s skin. To do this, they use an electrically powered tattoo machine that resembles (and sounds like) a dental drill. The machine moves the needles up and down to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The ink remains in the epidermis layer of the skin and is held in place by the body’s phagocytes, which engulf the pigment.

However, the new policy still includes a few restrictions. “We’re going to maintain the ban against body art, which is your whole arm tattooed. We’re going to maintain the ban on visible tattoos on your neck or on the back of your hand,” said Ronal Serpas, New Orleans Police Superintendent.

An estimated 36% of Americans aged 18 to 25 have at least one tattoo, so there are bound to be a few police officers within the city sporting one of their own. Yet with this new policy, the officers will be able to wear small forearm tattoos, no larger than 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches and no more than one per arm.

Although many in the department will be relieved to hear the change, others believe this issue should not be focused on at the moment.

“I think it’s the wrong time, and the wrong thing to do,” said Glasser, who believes the department has bigger fish to fry outside of the department. “We have a lot of serious things to be concerned about. This isn’t one of them.”

However, both sides are pleased that a compromise in the tattoo policy has been reached. As of 2012, there are 1,271 police officers in New Orleans.

“When we can compromise, when we can find common ground on what’s important to the officers, and what’s important to the leadership, I always want to find that; and when I can I’ll act upon it,” said Serpas.

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