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The Professional Appearance of Police Officers: Does visible body art effect perception?
AuthorWyllie, Cassie J
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AbstractThe current climate of policing is dangerous and is steadily becoming unpopular as a profession. As a result, police recruitment across the United States has decreased in recent years. In combination with this new climate of policing, the hiring standards for agencies across the United States remain stricter than many other professions, resulting in departments struggling to recruit quality officers. Police agencies nationwide typically operate with one or more vacant positions. Personal appearance policies are still in place in many agencies, and these may be serving as a barrier to the recruitment of qualified candidates. Agencies nationwide are holding tight to an antiquated but established definition of professionalism as it relates to the appearance of their uniformed officers. Previous research has indicated many agencies have an appearance policy discouraging visible body art (VBA), such as tattoos and body piercings. However, the pool of individuals presently most likely to apply for law enforcement jobs are college students and Veterans, which is also the group most likely to have tattoos or visible piercings. The purpose of this study was to identify whether or not the standard for professional appearance is changing and has adapted to include individuals with VBA being viewed as just as professional as those individuals without VBA. This study found no significant differences in the way law enforcement officers with VBA were viewed when compared with law enforcement officers without VBA Keywords: tattoos, police, recruitment, visible body art