NEW ORLEANS - A new policy that requires New Orleans police officers to cover up any tattoos or body art will now take effect in October and not Thursday as originally planned.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas initially wanted to require officers with tattoos on their arms to cover them up with long sleeves. Now the superintendent says he'll work with the police unions to come up with a hot weather compromise and delay the policy change until Oct. 6.
The unions say they and their members still have a problem with the policy, but they're glad to be given the opportunity to work with the chief on it.
“It somehow seems to taint an officer that has body art or tattoos on as somehow being unprofessional. I don't buy into that,” said Eric Hessler, the attorney for the Police Association of New Orleans.
“The officers themselves don't buy into that. We've always maintained that we expect our officers to be professional and conduct themselves in a professional manner and that should be what they're ultimately held to.”
Serpas had proposed the policy, which the NOPD said is common in other cities, in an effort to present a more professional appearance for police officers.
As to the matter of there being little input on the change, Remi Braden, the NOPD's public affairs director, said that the unions had been given the opportunity to give input before the issue went public earlier this summer.
"The proposed revisions to the tattoo policy were emailed to the presidents of the Black Order of Police, Fraternal Order of Police and PANO for suggestions twice earlier this year,” she said.
No president gave feedback of any kind, Braden said and “apparently, none of them shared the proposals with their memberships for their input. Despite this, the chief is very willing to work with rank and file officers to develop a one-style arm cover for short-sleeve weather.”