Lincoln police will be allowed to show their tats

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The Lincoln Police Department has decided to change its policy and allow on-duty officers to show their tattoos, following a trial period this summer to gather public input.

Officer Erin Spilker said the project, which kicked off in May, was geared at getting input from the public and responding to what it wanted, given that law enforcement agencies don’t all have the same policies when it comes to visible tattoos.

Previously, Lincoln officers who had tattoos had to cover them up at work.

When Spilker started the project, she said, she didn’t know what to expect, but saw it as a way to introduce and humanize Lincoln officers and posted videos about individual officers’ tattoos and the meaning behind them.

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“We wanted to use the idea of showing the human side, our stories, as a way of recruiting others who may share similar interests into the law enforcement career. Tattoos are such a beautiful way to tell your story,” she said.

Spilker said they received an overwhelmingly positive response in phone calls, emails, social media messages and comments on online posts and also checked public comments posted to other media sites after stories about the project were published.

“Again, the results were overwhelmingly positive,” she said.

On Tuesday night, the department posted the decision on Twitter and Facebook.

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“We asked for your input about allowing officers to have visible tattoos back in May. You responded with suggestions, comments and criticism that we took to heart. It was decided that Lincoln Police officers WILL BE ALLOWED to show their tattoos,” the post said.

There was a presentation to command staff, who ultimately agreed to the change with certain restrictions, such as no face or head tattoos or any tattoos deemed inappropriate or offensive.

In May, Sgt. Brad Junker, who is primarily responsible for recruiting and hiring for LPD, said the policy change also could help as a recruitment tool, given that some other agencies in Nebraska, like the Omaha Police Department and University Police, allow them.

He said at this point, it’s rare to have an applicant come through who doesn’t have any tattoos.

Spilker said: “We are so grateful to the community for participating and helping us come to a conclusion. It has been a very positive experience, which speaks so much about Lincoln.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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