Reblogged from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/tattoo
Police departments all over the country are imposing tattoo bans of various scope on their officers, but it is unclear what difference these bans make on their abilities to enforce the law.
Most recently, the Honolulu Police Department announced a ban on any visible tattoos, piercings or “dental ornaments.” Existing tattoos must be covered with a long sleeve uniform or with makeup. (Yes, makeup.)
The new ban raises multiple concerns. Tattoos are a huge part of Hawaii culture, Polynesian tattoos in particular. Many see tattoos not as a fashion statement but as a statement of heritage. Similar issues were raised last year when the London Metropolitan Police banned some tattoos, since a portion of their force came from Pacific islands.
A Honolulu resident summed up the second problem best: “Somebody’s going to get a heat stroke,” Beverly Neely told KITV, referring to the suggestion that the officers wear long sleeve uniforms to cover their tattoos. Mark Spencer, then president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, raised the same concern when Phoenix banned tattoos in 2011. “Imagine having to wear long sleeves along with body armor, a gun belt and having to get in and out of a police car 50 times every day,” Spencer told the New York Times.
The New Orleans police department is in the process of reviewing its proposed tattoo ban in light of this concern. “As we reach temperatures close to 100 degrees on some days, it just seems like cruel and unusual punishment, just because you are proud that you served in the U.S. Navy or you put the name of your child on your arm,” a Fraternal Order of Police spokesman said during this summer’s debate over the ban.
Finally, on an island where every branch of the military has at least one base, no doubt the Honolulu PD will also face the problem of a large portion of their officers having military backgrounds. The military has a strong tattoo culture, and veterans wear their ink with pride. Retired military members provide one of the best pools from which police departments could and should recruit.
“We’re losing a lot of good applicants, especially veterans returning back from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Vermont State Police Capt. David Notte said last year. Vermont iscurrently considering loosening its strict policies regarding tattoos in order to give themselves more recruiting options.
Baltimore, Los Angeles and New York all have tattoo bans of varying degrees, and smaller departments are clearly trying to follow suit. But what effect do tattoo bans have on the success of the officers? “The absence of visible tattoos gives a more professional appearance to law enforcement officers,” an NOPD spokesperson argued.
Some officers agree, believing a tattoo-less police force will aid in their community interactions. Jeffrey Yzquierdo, who has a full-sleeve tattoo on his arm, had been with the Phoenix Police Department for 11 years when he told the New York Times that he had no problem with a tattoo ban. “Some people want nothing to do with me,” Yzquierdo said, indicating he was frustrated with the public’s negative response towards him because of his tattoos.
But many police departments’ bans involve an incredible amount of bureaucracy and nitpicking that possibly takes focus away from much more important concerns. Department bans specify the size of the allowable tattoos, “no greater than 3″ X 3″ size each” and only one on each arm for new hires in Palm Beach County. (For veterans, a little leeway: “No larger than a notecard.”) In Phoenix, tattoos could not be larger than a “3×5 index card.”
In departments where the ban only applies to new hires, like Des Moines, current officers had to document by photograph and report every tattoo they already had so that no new tattoo went unnoticed — or unpunished.
As Honolulu moves forward with its tattoo ban, NOPD continues to reconsider its ban. It may be one of the few departments heeding the argument that the police have bigger fish to fry. According to The Advocate, New Orleans loses an average of one police officer every three days.
“I think it’s bad for the city,” Police Association of New Orleans President Mike Glasser said. “It accomplishes nothing. I don’t know if it makes for a more professional appearance, but it doesn’t make for more professional policing.”
In fact, when the Des Moines Police Department banned tattoos in 2009, police union president Stewart Barnes argued that his tattoos actually helped him do his job. Then 48 years old, Barnes said his ink helped local youth relate to him. “”They come up to me and talk to me about tattoos.”
By Danny Casler
In 2011 we set out to accomplish something that has never been done before in Hawaii. A tattoo convention. Sounds simple enough. We all have been to one or 10. I remember my first one in Vegas where I met Mario Barth & Mike DeVries and I thought “Man, this is bad ass… everyone tattooing together, the camaraderie, the skill levels being matched, the talent pool and in some areas, the lack there of.”
On July 13 NATTOO NATION’S ED HARDY will be signing his new book, followed by a TATTOO NATION ENCORE PERFORMANCE on THREE screens in HAWAII, two in OAHU one in MAUI!
By Danny Claser
In 2009 I was free and clear from break-up with a female tattoo artist who was on the show LA Ink. In the time we were together we spent a lot of time traveling the world doing tattoo conventions. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the people who attended these expos. It reminded me of being on Warped Tour when I was a traveling musician. I think I connected to this messed up, chaotic, yet beautiful carny way of life where nothing had stability yet it was stable in the storm. I missed being surrounded by people the world looked at as weirdos or circus freaks. The musicians life is not that far off from the tattooers lifestyle and somehow porn stars and gypsies all seem to fall under that umbrella as well… (more…)
By Molly Skobba
Man, Pacific Soul has it all: personality, style and most of all talent. Steve and Paulo can tattoo everything from American traditional to Japanese to what they’re most famous for, their Polynesian tattoos. in addition, they’re located two blocks from Ala Moana beach in Honolulu, Hawaii… (more…)
By Dave Gibson
My uncle used to tell this story about when he was in the Navy… He and his small group of friends liked getting tattoos and talking about them. One shipmate in particular had an unusual tattoo, and he never wanted to talk about it. My uncle described it as a pig with a tree behind it, a bird in the tree and a moon in the sky. No matter how much coaxing, the sailor didn’t want to talk about it. Finally, one day he gave in and said, “Alright, you wanna know? It’s a ________________.”
By Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura and Molly Skobba
I was really excited for Molly to meet Paulo and Blaise Manabe and even happier that she wanted to blog about my Hawaiian braddah! Paulo is an amazing artist, and an even more amazing person. I always work with him when I am in Hawaii and am continually impressed with his tattoos. He is a true master of the Polynesian-style (though he would never let you call him that) and is constantly working to improve his work. He is a great father and has the coolest kid ever. You can find him at Pacific Soul Tattoo or at Zippy’s…
Courtesy of Vice Magazine: Mike Brown is a tattoo artist who, if you know your history, always comes up when people talk about those who pioneered tattooing in the late 1970s. He worked at China Sea (formerly owned by Sailor Jerry), ground zero for traditional American tattoos, and at the birthplace for black grey penitentiary-style tattoos, Good Time Charlie’s Tattoo Land. His life has had some ups and downs over the years, and they’ve made him a little hard to track down if you’re looking to get a Mike Brown tattoo. But we had the chance to visit Honolulu in January and made sure to stop by the shop Mike works at to ask him about the old days. He still tattoos five days a week, and we’d wager that most people who see him have no idea about his pedigree. His portfolio alone is a history lesson in tattooing, with everything from the most beautiful Cholas, Pin-Ups, mean-ass biker skulls, and touristy sea turtle tats. Mike Brown still does it all, and does so with the most humble manner… (more…)