METHUEN — Police Chief Joseph Solomon is polling the public about whether to allow officers to show tattoos on the job.
After a week of conversations with residents and a survey circulating online, Solomon said thousands of people support changing the department's historic policy against tattoos.
Solomon explained that many officers with tattoos have been forced to hide them under long pants and sleeves, even during hot summer months. He pointed to the organization's traditional, paramilitary roots as reasoning.
While a final decision is pending, Solomon said officers are allowed to show their tattoos.
"The (patrolman's) union has been asking for a couple years," Solomon said of what sparked consideration of the policy change.
He could quickly think of five or six officers within his department with tattoos that stretch all the way down their arms, preventing them from ever wearing short sleeves at work.
The policy change would align with large departments across the country, like in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Houston and Austin, Texas.
Younger cops are entering the force with more tattoos than ever, according to Solomon, and a changed policy would welcome even more to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Methuen's new policy would affect tattoos from the short sleeve line down to the wrist or visible on the legs. Neck and hand tattoos will still not be allowed unless approved by Solomon or his designee, he said.
"Most people around the city didn't have any issue with it," Solomon said. "They're supportive of the change."
He said residents largely care more about an officer's behavior, being polite and courteous, more than their ink art.