Police chief considers relaxing recruiting rules on tattoos

Police chief considers relaxing recruiting rules on tattoos

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus spoke with Tucson News Now Tuesday about the challenges of creating a diverse agency.  While recruits must meet state standards to earn a badge, police departments often have their own rules for who advances to be an officer and who is disqualified.

Magnus believes some policies should change with the times especially those banning visible tattoos and some types of drug use.

"Most of us can agree we don't want tattoos on the face or neck. Certainly we don't want anything obscene or offensive or objectionable, but is there some middle ground here?" said Magnus.

He describes the internal debate on tattoos as "robust."  When it comes to drug policies for recruits, Magnus says he'd like to see standards more in line with younger generations.

"I think everyone would agree that certain types of drug use or certainly activities like selling drugs or more serious drug crimes would naturally be disqualifying activities. But there are a lot of people, in fact folks of all ages, who have used marijuana any of a number of times," says Magnus.

TPD recruiters are also reaching out to different communities, even speaking with people who probably never thought about being in law enforcement.  They've been spending more time at the University of Arizona.

"During that 18 to 21 year gap that's an important time where they can be learning about the department and getting engaged in what we're doing," said Magnus. "Then they turn 21, they know us, we know them, we have a relationship, perhaps we have a really good cop."

Deadly police shootings across the country involving racial minorities have put a spotlight on police department diversity.  The incidents spark protests with many questioning officer use of force and possible racial profiling. Tucson Police release quarterly statistics on traffic stops broken down by gender and race posted on the city website.

To take the first step in applying to be a Tucson Police officer is filling out an online form.

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