With Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked for readers’ thoughts on a proposal to change the Johnson City Police Department’s tattoo policy banning visible tattoos. Here are some of the responses we received.

Policy could disqualify veterans


JCPD is one of few departments today still enforcing a tattoo policy that disqualifies potential candidates, including a large number of active duty infantry veterans.

When it comes to visible tattoos, what difference does it make for a man or woman to have one on their back versus their forearm? Does the location of an officer’s ink determine their level of integrity, responsibility, or temperament? What better way to “humanize police” than to have more diversity within the department and make officers more relatable?

Military tattoos, for example, are extremely common and usually include names of units or a branch emblem. They often symbolize loss, patriotism, and sacrifice. They even help service members recognize one another and serve as a conversation starter amongst brothers in arms. Should a tattoo automatically disqualify those who began their experience in high-threat situations, defensive tactics, apprehending suspects, and protecting civilians? Veterans are highly trained with skills and discipline that are regarded as assets around the country, but tattoos eliminate their chance at employment with JCPD. If any person is willing to risk their life in service to our community, a visible tattoo should not prevent them from doing the job they’re called to do.

Chief Turner should make alterations to the outdated policy, and if not, provide our aspiring candidates with an explanation why he and city commissioners believe the policy is necessary. Our veterans should have the opportunity to serve in their hometown without being discriminated against and turned away for carrying a permanent reminder of their sacrifice on their skin.

It’s easy to shake a veteran’s hand and say, “thank you,” now it’s time we thank them in ways that matter, and change the outdated policy preventing them from the same opportunities they fought for the rest of us to have.




They don’t affect job performance

Yes, the JCPD should be allowed to have visible tattoos.

What they have on their skin should not determine if they can or cannot do their job!

If you allow someone with glasses to work and it doesn’t affect their performance, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to have tattoos visible? The policy should be that they can express themselves if they want to. As long as they protect and serve and have outstanding performance!


Johnson City


Consider the message

Tattoos on a police officer, in general, wouldn’t have a significant impact on my perception of any given officer.

However, there are varying thresholds of tolerance, and I would hope that you consider an officer with a “DEATH FROM ABOVE” Airborne tattoo pulling over someone from the Middle East could have an interesting emotional effect with a large obvious tattoo stuck in the window.

I’m retired Army with no tattoos that paint me this way or that way, but I can tolerate military tattoos and maybe some others that aren’t blatantly offensive. Depends on who you are ultimately.

They have the tattoo for a reason. It is the message they wanted to convey.


Johnson City