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Racine Police test relaxed rules on facial hair and tattoos to help with recruitment

Posted at 6:49 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 19:52:31-05

RACINE — Racine Police are relaxing rules around facial hair and tattoos to help with recruiting new officers.

In October, the department started a pilot program allowing beards, goatees, and visible tattoos to an extent.

"Many reasons for that one was retention and recruiting because a lot more people these days have tattoos and want to have facial hair. When we go out on recruiting tours one of the first questions they ask is what is our grooming policy," said Lieutenant Adam Malacara.

Malacara himself will benefit from the change. He has an arm tattoo with a thin blue line, a tribute to his profession. Previously, he would have to wear sleeves all year to cover it up.

He says in a department already short on officers the previous ban on beards and tattoos was a barrier.

"There's people that wouldn't even apply because of that rule," said Malacara.

We found grooming policies vary depending on the department. Racine, Milwaukee, and Franklin all allow short mustaches.

Beards and goatees are allowed in Racine and Milwaukee, but not Franklin.

In Milwaukee, officers must keep beards and goatees trimmed and no longer than 1/4 inch in length.

Racine's pilot program allows beards and goatees that are clean, well groomed in the neck area, and no longer than 1 inch. Beards must also be tapered around the sideburns. The general order makes a note that members have to wait at least two days away from their regular assignment to begin their growth.

Racine and Milwaukee officers can show tattoos as long as they are not offensive and they do not conflict with the department's morals and mission. Visible tattoos also have to be approved.

In Racine, discretion is up to the Chief of Police or his designee. In Milwaukee, a committee has to give the green light on tattoos.

However, Racine's shift on tattoos prohibits tattoos on the neck, head, face, ears, or hands. The general order states chest tattoos visible while in uniform or plain clothes during working hours or off duty work are prohibited.
In franklin...Tattoos have to be covered up.

From Lost Soul Tattoo in Racine to The Barbershop for men workers say they have plenty of clients who are cops.

"Not that I have anything against them, it's just this just kind of used to be referred to as an outlaw business," said tattoo artist Chris Mack.

Mack and barber Mitchell Thomas think the change better reflects the times.

"I think it's also a thing where the community and officers can relate together," said Thomas.

The general order ends in March, that's when the department plans to decide whether to make the change permanent.