Kansas Highway Patrol sticking with current tattoo policy

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Highway Patrol is not budging on its tattoo policy for its troopers.

The KHP formed an internal committee earlier this year, consisting of sworn-in and non-sworn personnel to look into the policy.

After getting input from the public as well, Lt. Roger Baughman says they felt it was in their best interest to continue with the policy they have.

“Tattoos cannot be anywhere beyond the shirt sleeve, down through the hands, anywhere in the ‘V’ of the neckline, all the way up your neck through your head and across your head,” said Lt. Baughman

This comes after more than 21,000 people were surveyed, 69-percent who said they weren’t bothered by troopers having visible tattoos.

Lt. Baughman says those people also mentioned they were okay with the tattoos, if they weren’t considered offensive.

He adds if they had changed the policy it would have been difficult to deem what is offensive or controversial in nature.

“The problem of it is, is what is controversial, that is too hard to make the call in a lot of instances,” said Lt. Baughman.

At the beginning of this year when the policy was being talked about, KHP was short about a hundred troopers.

It was one reason KHP says they looked into the policy, thinking it was hurting their recruitment efforts.

However, starting pay for troopers has been bumped up for troopers to $40,000 a year.

Also, under the career progression payment plan for KHP, raises are built-in with the more years they serve.

Lt. Baughman says they believe that has factored into their recruiting efforts being the best they’ve seen in years.

“This year we actually have more abundance of applicants than we’ve had in the past, and we have the largest class that we’ve had in the past,” said Lt. Baughman.

Lt. Baughman says they had about 475 applicants in the latest class, 40 to 50 which made it through the recruitment process.

While Lt. Baughman says this is the policy KHP is going with right now, he says it could be revisited at a later date.

Other area law enforcement agencies also have a tattoo policy they follow.

Wichita police say tattoos cannot be visible while on-duty. That includes facial, neck and head tattoos.

Sedgwick County deputies cannot have visible tattoos that may be offensive.

That means tattoos that show nudity, contain racist content, gang affiliations, or any offensive image or words must be covered.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office also bans deputies from having body piercings, like tongue and mouth piercings.