NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Scruff and tattoos won’t just be the norm at the Mermaid City’s breweries and coffee shops going forward.
As law enforcement agencies across the country adopt new policies to attract recruits, the Norfolk Police Department is relaxing its own rules on beards and visible ink to help bring in and retain officers.
NPD says it’s the first agency in Hampton Roads to do so.
NPD officers can now show off their arm tattoos without the use of a sleeve, and full beards and goatees can now be worn with some limitations.
Beards can’t grow more than one-quarter inch in length and must “shape and trim” at the neckline, NPD said in a press release.
Tattoos “deemed extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist” are still prohibited, whether visible or not.
“We will no longer allow these personal style choices to impede our hiring practices, which sometimes prevents the most qualified candidates from a career in public safety,” said Police Chief Larry D. Boone.
Many law enforcement agencies have already lifted their bans on tattoos, with the Austin Police Department in Texas even using “National Tattoo Day” in their recruiting material.
Other law enforcement agencies are still considering getting rid of their bans on tattoos, citing public perception concerns.
As for Norfolk, Chief Boone doesn’t see an issue.
“I don’t think anyone who calls the police for help cares whether the responding officer has a beard or tattoo,” Boone said. “Our appearance in uniform may have changed, but our professionalism, performance, and expectation from the community have not. The women and men of the Norfolk Police Department do amazing things daily, and our commitment to excellence will remain the same.”