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Lexington Police Tattoo Policy Could Soon Change (Updated)

Josh James

Lexington police may soon ink a deal relaxing the department's rule against visible tattoos. 

Currently, the Lexington Police Department turns away applicants with visible tattoos who are seeking to join the ranks, but that policy is driving away otherwise qualified candidates and decreasing diversity, according to the Fraternal Order of Police. 

In a press release, the FOP reports progress in its push to loosen those standards, which they argue are out of step in 2019. State Lodge 4 President Sgt. Jason Rothermund says tattoos are viewed differently than they were even a decade ago and public perception has changed.

The Lexington Police Department has posted an initial draft of its policy changes, and proponents hope it will lead to “reasonable standards” for body art while still safeguarding against "offensive images and messages."

The draft marks the first step in the negotiating process under the FOP's collective bargaining agreement. 

Update (4:30 p.m.): Lexington Police spokesperson Brenna Angel says the new tattoo policy has been finalized.

Here's the full press release from the department:

Employees of the Lexington Police Department are now permitted to have approved tattoos visible while in a work uniform. Chief Lawrence Weathers today announced changes in the personal appearance policies for both sworn officers and civilian personnel, which took effect last week.

“These policy changes have been considered for quite some time as societal views on tattoos have changed over the years,” Weathers said. “I think police employees will be pleased with this updated policy, and I hope the community will be able to see officers as regular people and not just someone in a uniform. With this change, we also anticipate an increase in our police applicant pool.”

The department’s previous policies did not allow recruits or employees to have any tattoos that were visible while in a short-sleeved uniform. Now, tattoos and body alterations on arms and legs are permitted after they have been approved by the Chief of Police or the Chief’s designee.

Chief Weathers reviewed the policies of other law enforcement agencies and discussed the issue with several officers and community members before finalizing the change.

According to the new policies, a tattoo or body alteration that may be perceived to be or is vulgar, indecent, sexist, racist, anti-social, gang-related, extremist group-related, or may bring discredit upon the department is prohibited. Sleeve tattoos and tattoos that appear on the hands, neck, or above the neck are also prohibited.

The personal appearance policies are available to read online via the City’s website:


Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.