The Philadelphia Police Department has crafted a new policy for police officers who have tattoos and other forms of visible body art. The move comes five months after the department became entangled in a controversy over an officer who was photographed on duty in a polo shirt that showed off tattoos on his arms that many critics believed were Nazi-inspired.
Directive 6.7 is scheduled to take effect March 1 and will prohibit officers from having any tattoos that are "offensive, extremist, indecent, racist or sexist while on duty," according to a copy of the policy obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
Head, face, neck, and scalp tattoos are also forbidden. Officers who already have them will be expected to cover them with cosmetics or clothing. Tattooed eyebrows won't be banned, but the department is opposed to more extreme types of body art, like "tongue splitting or bifurcation," unnaturally colored contact lenses, branding, and "abnormal filing of teeth."
Supervisors will be expected to look for any signs of prohibited tattoos. If an officer refuses to cover up body art, he or she could be sent to the Records and Identification Unit to have the images photographed, and the matter would be passed on to a departmental Tattoo/Body Art Review Board, according to the policy.