Starting Jan. 1, Houston Police Department officers must cover all visible tattoos or body art while on duty or while wearing a department uniform. The art can only be covered with their uniform or plainclothes, not a bandage or sweatband.
Police Chief Harold Hurtt says he believes the new rule will make sure Houston PD officers project a professional image. "Over the course of my career, I've seen some pretty questionable tattoos officers have," he says.
The new grooming policy will also ban goatees and beards. But this is described as a safety measure to ensure the proper use of breathing masks when responding to chemical emergencies.
Many officers aren't happy about the prospect of wearing long sleeves and pants even in the hot summer months. And some say they don't have the money to surgically remove their tattoos. Some disagree wholeheartedly with the policy, especially if they got their tattoos as part of an agency assignment such as gangs or narcotics.