Springfield Police Department now allowing officers to have visible tattoos, hoping to increase staff with policy change

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 8:25 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Police Department has seen a major decline in the number of recruits. The department says it had half the normal amount of applicants last year.

With the decrease in applicants comes a more intensive focus on recruiting and easing up on some previous policies, such as allowing visible arm tattoos. The department ow allows visible tattoos for current and incoming officers, a move leaders are hopeful will lead to potential recruits.

”We’re looking for anything and everything we can do to open up those doors and make sure we’re not turning away someone who has an interest in being a police officer for something that’s kind of arbitrary,” says Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

Recruiting Officer Greg Anderson says tattoos have become more common in society. However, there can be a generational discrepancy.

“A lot of the older generation of police officers don’t agree with it, but we’re seeing a younger work force on our department and a majority of our younger work force have tattoos,” Officer Anderson says. “It’s just the truth. We didn’t want to lose out on that younger work force.”

The current recruit class is the first one able to show off their tattoos. Officer Anderson says he already sees this policy change making a difference.

“Overwhelming majority of our applicants have tattoos,” Officer Anderson says. “Mostly visible tattoos on their arms. As you can see with our current recruits, every single one of them has a tattoo.”

The department is down about 45 officers this year. Chief Williams says in a normal year, the department may be down about 20.

Officer Anderson says he’s thankful more people seem to be showing interest in applying.

“With low recruitment numbers, it definitely affects the officers that are already out on the street,” Officer Anderson says. “It puts a lot more pressure on them. A bigger call load obviously.”

Chief Williams says about 30 current officers requested to be able to show off their tattoos, and previously had to wear long sleeves.

Recruit Tyler Rhoads has a visible tattoo on his arm and says he’s happy to be able to wear short sleeves.

“It is nice in the summertime when it gets to be 100 degrees that we can wear short sleeves like everybody else,” Rhoads says.

Chief Williams says tattoos can even help officers engage better with the public moving forward. However, it doesn’t mean just any tattoo will be approved.

“There is still some restrictions,” Chief Williams says. “Nothing that’s derogatory or obscene or racist or could be perceived that way.”

Chief Williams says the number of applicants doubled in July. However, he thinks that is because of other incentives the department now offers. Some of those incentives include an increased starting salary and other benefits. That information can be found here.

Those interested in the eligibility requirements or applying to be a police officer can do so online.

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