There once was a time that tattoos were taboo – especially for government employees. In essence a ‘deal breaker’ for employment. The State of Pennsylvania has softened that stance … at least as it relates to their state troopers and prospective cadets. As of last month, Pennsylvania state troopers and cadets may have tattoos on their forearms and biceps. However, they have to be concealed by a long-sleeved shirt when on duty. Undoubtedly, other states may follow suit as state patrol trooper numbers have been in decline and it has become harder and harder to find qualified people to patrol the country’s highways and byways.
In instituting the new policy the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police stated that: “The policy change [was] a reflection of internal and external feedback and the evolving public perception regarding tattoos and other body modifications …. We want to recruit the most qualified candidates available. Department leadership recognized we were potentially missing out on a larger group of applicants because of our restrictive policy and after careful consideration, we revised it accordingly.”
Like so many other state patrols, Pennsylvania previously didn’t permit prospective cadets to have tattoos or brandings visible to the public when wearing the summer uniform short-sleeved shirt. That has now changed. Of course there are limits to what can be exposed. For example, the policy specifies that tattoos depicting words, pictures, or symbols that can be interpreted as advocating, promoting, or supporting racial, gender, or ethnic hatred or intolerance are not permitted. It also prohibits tattoos that appear to be discriminatory toward any race, national origin, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
Washington State has had its own personal issues with finding and hiring qualified candidates to become state troopers. So it stands to reason it too will loosen its requirements and find ways to expand its state patrol candidate pool. For example, like tattoos, past marijuana use (now that it is legalized in the state) may not be an automatic denial of entry into the screening process. Time will tell. One thing is for sure, we all want to see qualified troopers on our roadways, even if that means they may be sporting a tattoo or two.
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