MILLSBORO — Body art is commonly displayed in today’s world. But Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway admits he isn’t a fan of tattoos.
“You won’t see a tattoo on me,” Chief Calloway said during the town’s Oct. 4 council meeting. But “at the end of the day, this is tough when you try to recruit people.”
With that, council approved the chief’s requested revision to departmental policy, allowing acceptable tattoos to be visible on the arm or left ring finger of any agency officer while on duty. It was a 6-0 vote.
Previously, the policy did not allow any visible body art. It stated that employees “will refrain from obtaining body art that is visible beyond normal working attire. Employees displaying body art visible beyond work attire will be required to maintain their body art covered.”
“You could have (tattoos). You would just have to keep them covered,” said Chief Calloway.
Tattoos on any other body part — hands (other than the left ring finger), neck or face — are still not permitted.
“I agree with you, Chief,” said Councilman Larry Gum. “I don’t know why anybody would want to be pierced in black ink. But it is the time when we see it everywhere on people. I think, with control, it can be tolerated. The biggest thing you hit me on was recruiting. It is hard enough to get police officers, and then, you have to turn one down just because of a tattoo.”
In researching the issue, Chief Calloway reached out to police departments in Laurel, Georgetown, Seaford and Rehoboth Beach, he said, finding that “all permit tattoos to be viewable.”
Millsboro’s policy also states that no tattoo identifying any gang or set/subset of any gang is permitted to be visible while in uniform or while conducting any police business.
If a member of Millsboro PD gets a tattoo that the chief deems offensive, obscene or inappropriate, the department can order it covered by uniform garments — i.e., a long-sleeved shirt or jacket — while on duty, Chief Calloway said.
He added that the department’s intent is to maintain a professional image, while keeping the public trust, and that there is no current body art issue within the agency.
“I can tell you, I work closely with every one of our members. I can attest that I don’t have that challenge,” Chief Calloway said.