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Video: New Hampshire Army Wife Persuades Police Chief to Change Tattoo Policy

July 07, 2015  | 

VIDEO: New Hampshire Army Wife Persuades Police Chief to Change Tattoo Policy

Zach Ferguson is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who wanted to become a police officer in Manchester, N.H. But he found out that the tattoos on his arms that read "U.S. Army" and "FREEDOM" would prevent him from being considered for employment with the Manchester Police Department.

Just 18 months ago, the department adopted a stricter tattoo policy. It says new officers can’t have any visible tattoos when they wear short-sleeves or shorts — period.

Frustrated that her husband’s pride in his military service now disqualifies him from wearing a blue uniform, Annie Kelly wrote a letter to the Union Leader newspaper a few months back — which was then transformed into an op-ed piece.

Among those who read the article was incoming Police Chief Nick Willard. “When I read it,” he says, “it instantly hit a chord with me.”

Indeed, the chief already suspected his department’s tattoo policy was making it tougher to recruit the very skill-set he values most — because so many veterans have them.

“Military service is the number one qualifier I look for in a potential police officer,” Chief Willard told WBZ-TV. “Even more so than a college degree.”

So Chief Willard reversed course, allowing applicants with visible tattoos to enter the police pipeline — subject to review of their body art to make sure it isn’t racist, gang-related, or otherwise offensive.

Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Captain Ahab @ 7/7/2015 4:22 PM

Tattoos are widely regarded as "low life." Rightly or wrongly. I can understand the Chief's policy, but there are simply not enough good candidates with undefaced derma to adequately staff departments.

k @ 7/7/2015 9:46 PM

Good choice Chief! Not only will you get a high quality type of recruit but you showed that you are able to admit a mistake in judgement when advised of others opinions that prove to be valid. You appear to be the kind of chief that your troops can be proud to follow. You proved your ability to lead. Now I hope we don't get a pack of "me too" fools with non military tats that scream that you (Chief) are discriminating against them by not allowing other non Military tats that have zero meaning and are just "art"! Please stick to your guns, if its a meaningful tat with Military meaning or specific meaning to honor people and things that deserve honor, then go for it otherwise it its just a tat say sorry, be a fire fighter!

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