Local police departments now allow full beards, tattoos for officers

Posted at 5:10 PM, Oct 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 10:05:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. – As of Monday, Norfolk police officers will be allowed to grow a beard and openly display tattoos while on-duty!

This updated policy comes in response to the Department’s progressive recruiting and retention plan.

The Hampton Police Division’s Personal Appearance policy was also changed on August 12 to allow beards and most tattoos/body art/brands.

Photo provided by the Norfolk Police Department

Norfolk police say that the updated policy is not without some parameters. Officers who would like to have a full beard will not allow it to grow more than one-quarter inch in length and must “shape and trim” the beard around the neckline. Trimmed goatees are also permitted.

The Norfolk department’s standard on tattoos has also changed. Police officers will now be allowed to openly display their tattoos without the use of a “sleeve,” which covered the tattoos. Tattoos that are “deemed extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist” are prohibited, regardless of visibility.

Hampton Police said, “Beards, mustaches and goatees may be worn but must be kept neatly trimmed.” Tattoos, body art and/or brands on the head, face, neck and hands are prohibited. Tattoos, body art and/or brands that are prejudicial to good order are prohibited. Tattoos that are obscene, explicit or that depict any type of protected class discrimination are also prohibited.

Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone believes the updated uniform policy is indicative of the actions of a modern 21st Century law enforcement agency.

“We constantly assess the way in which we serve and protect; part of that is also addressing dress and personal appearance. 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.”

The Norfolk Police Department believes that updating its dress and personal appearance standards will not only encourage more people to see law enforcement as a career; it will also positively impact the way the officer is represented as a member of the community they serve.

“I don’t think anyone who calls the police for help cares whether the responding officer has a beard or tattoo,” said Chief Boone. “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.”