Tat's on You: Vermont State Police Updates Its Policy on Ink | 802 Much | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Tat's on You: Vermont State Police Updates Its Policy on Ink

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Vermont State Police force has eased its policy on arm tattoos - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: BRYAN PARMELEE
  • Photo Illustration: Bryan Parmelee
  • Vermont State Police force has eased its policy on arm tattoos

It's official: A handful of Seven Days staffers are newly eligible to apply for the Vermont State Police force.

That's because the department has eased its policy on arm tattoos. Previously, anyone with ink visible below a short-sleeve uniform shirt was deemed ineligible for a position as a trooper. Now, those with such tats must cover them with department-issued arm sleeves during their shifts.

So what caused the VSP to rub out the rule? The department worries it's missing out on good potential recruits, including military vets, according to Capt. Julie Scribner, VSP's staff operations commander. It's also an acknowledgement that tats are now more culturally accepted than before.

Scribner said the policy closely aligns with one recently implemented by the Connecticut State Police. Departments in Maine, Massachusetts and Delaware have made changes, too, she said.

"We're just becoming more progressive and attuned to the current trends in society," Scribner said. The change means off-duty troopers are "free to be able to express their individuality," she added.

Face tattoos? Those are still prohibited, as is ink on the neck or hands, except for a commitment band on the ring finger, according to Scribner. Also outlawed: "any type of tattoo that indicates an extremist, sexist or racist ideology or affiliation."

New recruits will be asked about all of their tattoos, visible and not, and will need to disclose them on an application, according to Scribner. While there are no spot checks of covered tats, a recruiter could ask an applicant about their ink during the polygraph portion of the process, Scribner said.

The new policy is already paying dividends. The department went back to several potential recruits who had been disqualified in the last five years because of their tattoos. Six have already reapplied, according to Scribner. She expects even more qualified potential troopers to take advantage of the tat tweak.

"Fifty years ago, you needed to be a six-foot-tall man to apply for a position as a Vermont state trooper — and I am neither," Scribner said with a laugh. "Policies change."