Deputy Candidates Disqualified Because of Tattoos - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Deputy Candidates Disqualified Because of Tattoos

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Tattoos are a way for some people to express themselves, but it could keep people from getting certain jobs. Recently six applicants for a Sheriff's Deputy job, in the Twin Cities area, were disqualified because of their tattoos and where they're located.

Over the years it's become more popular with people getting inked. Addictions Tattoo Owner Trent Balvitsch says about 10 people come in for tattoos every day. But sometimes a tattoo can get in the way of professions.

"I've talked them out of getting stuff on their fore-arms, you think you know what you're doing, or what you're going to be doing for the future, but that's not always in concrete, it can change overnight." says Trent.

But some things haven't changed overnight, like both Moorhead and West Fargo Police Departments policy on tattoos.

"We just have a policy that says no tattoos or facial branding and tattooing, that could be seen when wearing a uniform." says West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen. And Moorhead's policy is the same. Deputy Chief Shannon Monroe says, "We've had some people that have had tattoos that stick out below their short sleeve uniform shirt and they'll just wear an ace bandage over it to cover it up."

But some people disagree with the guidelines they set. Marilee Hicks was getting another tattoo on Thursday, and was upset to hear that police can't express themselves.

"Well I don't think it has any affect on your job or education. It's not going to affect your character, it's not going to affect your ability to do your job. And a tattoo isn't going to weigh a police officer down if he's running, or affect his shooting ability in any way." Marilee says.

Law enforcement says the policy is to protect officers and the people. "We wanna have a neutral image in the public." says Deputy Chief Monroe. And Chief Rasmussen agrees, "The biggest reason is offensive. And you can say well it isn't offensive, but what is offensive and what isn't offensive is hard to determine."

Recently the Moorhead Police Department re-evaluated their policy because of a request within their team. And although no changes were made, police say that doesn't mean it couldn't change in the future.

Other jobs that have similar policies are restaurant managers, bank workers and even some clothing store sales staff.

Both West Fargo and Moorhead Police say they have never turned away someone because of a tattoo, and that in some cases, exceptions could be made.





Six applicants for a job as a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy were disqualified in a recent round of hiring. The reason for the disqualification comes down to their tattoos and where they're located.


Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek changed his department's policy about two years ago to limit tattoo visibility for new hires. Deputies already on the job are exempt. Tattoos cannot be visible when deputies are wearing short sleeve uniforms. Many law enforcement agencies have similar policies, arguing that officers need to maintain a professional image and that some tattoos can provoke the inmates.

Ryan Stevens passed a written test for a job as a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy, but was one of those disqualified. The 31-year-old Stevens says the policy has shut down opportunities for him.

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