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Greater Victoria police policies mum on tattoos

Aug 16 2012

While some Alberta police officers must cover tattoos and remove piercings while on duty, most police departments in Greater Victoria don't have tattoo policies.

A new policy in Medicine Hat, Alta., prohibits officers from wearing tattoos, piercings - including earrings - and hair dyed unnatural colours.

Most local police departments don't address tattoos in their personal appearance policies.

"Tattoos haven't been an issue for us before," said Victoria Police Const. Mike Russell, who chooses to cover his tattoos in certain professional situations.

There also haven't been any problems with tattoos in Oak Bay, but Deputy Chief Kent Thom said the appearance of officers is important.

"Dress and deployment is critical for police to be respected in the community," Thom said. "The public should have confidence in the police."

In Saanich, the police department is currently reviewing half of its policies, including one on personal appearance. Const. Matt Cawsey said they have been researching rules from other professional organizations and police agencies.

"The way we are approaching it, we aren't going to prevent a member getting a tattoo, but we might limit how much is shown in uniform," Cawsey said.

For Central Saanich police officers with tattoos, the chief constable has the discretion to decide whether or not they should be covered.

"We strive for professionalism and the policy maintains the professional demeanour we strive for," said Const. Jason Sneek.

The RCMP has a similar policy, and requires only tattoos that are considered offensive to be covered by Mounties on duty.

As of April 30, tattoos that are "pornographic, blasphemous, racist, vulgar in language or

design" can't be shown. mkaralis@timescolonist.com

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