LAPD Tattoo Policy in 2023 (Can LAPD Have Tattoos?)

Since tattoos are becoming so common, even police departments are modifying their rules to permit officers to have them.

It’s not unexpected that the police have had to adjust their stance on tattoos given that up to half of adult Americans are said to have at least one tattoo. They need new hires, after all, and they don’t want to reject well-qualified applicants because of a few tattoos.

Since tattoos are not regulated by the government, each police department can set its own policy. And, as you might expect, those policies vary widely from department to department.

So, is the LAPD tattoo policy on the lenient or the strict side, compared to other large police departments?

Here’s what you need to know.

LAPD tattoo policy highlights

LAPD Tattoo Policy

So, can LAPD have tattoos?

If you’ve been apprehensive about applying to the LAPD because of your tattoos, you can rest assured that the department is not automatically disqualifying applicants based on their body art.

As things stand, LAPD doesn’t discriminate against people with tattoos – meaning most people with ink are eligible to join the police force. With that said, the department is one of many across the US that prohibits displacing visible tattoos while on duty.

The above means that you’re allowed to have tattoos in all the places that would typically be covered by a uniform, including your arms, legs, chest, and back. However, if you have a tattoo on your face, hands, or fingers, it might be a bit problematic. In case of sleeve tattoos, you can always cover them with a long-sleeved shirt while on duty.

As is the case with other police departments, the LAPD has certain restrictions when it comes to the content of tattoos. For instance, department policy strictly prohibits any tattoos that could be associated with gangs, drugs, or racist groups. In addition, officers are not allowed to have tattoos that are obscene or sexually explicit in nature.

Generally speaking, the LAPD is more concerned with the content of your tattoos than with the fact that you have them. However, it’s worth noting that the department reserves the right to reject any applicant – with or without tattoos – if it believes they might not be able to perform their duties in a professional manner.

Tattoo Waivers Possible

Applicants with tattoos (visible or not) are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and it’s possible to get a waiver if the department feels you’re otherwise qualified for the job.

In order to get a tattoo waiver, you’ll need to submit a written request along with photographs of the tattoos in question. In your request, you’ll need to explain why you believe the department should grant you an exception to the tattoo policy.

Certainly, you can expect the department to ask you about the background of your tattoos and why they’re important to you. They’ll also want to know how visible the tattoos are and if you’re willing to cover them up while on duty.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the department has the right to ask you to remove your tattoos at your own expense if they feel it’s in the best interest of the department.