Thursday, July 8, 2004

Tattooed? Can't be trooper


Ky. starts policy this month for new state police

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - People with visible tattoos will not be eligible to become Kentucky State Troopers, under a policy implemented this month.

The policy applies to incoming cadets with tattoos that could be seen in a summer state police uniform, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokesman Chris Gilligan said. Troopers who were on duty before the rule took effect should not be affected, Gilligan said.

Other disqualifiers for new cadets include drug or alcohol abuse, dangerous driving and any felony convictions.

"We want to present an image of professionalism, responsibility ... ," Gilligan said. "We want to uphold the integrity of that uniform and that image."

The Fletcher administration in May implemented a ban against visible tattoos for state parks workers. At least one parks employee, a U.S. Navy veteran, was fired for having a visible tattoo.

The new policy for state police was not related to the parks policy, Gilligan said. The state police policy first was proposed in 2002 under former Gov. Paul Patton. Current Police Commissioner Mark Miller signed off on it days after taking the job in March, Gilligan said.

"This gives notice to applicants that the policy is in effect," Miller said. "There is a great concern over the appearance of our law-enforcement officers."

The policy also has been approved by a legislative panel, Gilligan said. Other states have similar policies, including Georgia and Rhode Island, he said.

Still, Sen. Walter Blevins Jr., D-West Liberty, said there were "bigger things to worry about in Frankfort." Given the popularity of tattoos, policies against them could limit the crop of eligible young people, he said.

"It seems like all of the young people these days have tattoos," Blevins said. "Certainly all of the sports figures seem to have them, and a lot of people in military service."

Gov. Ernie Fletcher is not planning a ban on tattoos throughout state government, Fletcher spokesman Doug Hogan said.

"The governor's not against tattoos or people having tattoos," Hogan said. "Obviously, though, we want the people who come into contact with the public to look professional."




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