LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Lafayette Police Department is now the only law enforcement agency in Tippecanoe County allowing officers to sport their facial hair and tattoos while in uniform.
“We as a department, we need to be flexible and we need to change with the times,” said Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly.
This change comes in an effort to open up the departments recruiting pool. Chief Patrick Flannelly said police departments have been struggling nationwide.
“I think police departments around the country are struggling with -- how do you attract the best young recruits,” said Flannelly.
Chief Flannelly said LPD started seeing the decline in applicants five years ago. Since then, their goal has been working to sustain the future.
“The future of the workforce is really our highest priority, setting ourselves up for success five years, ten years, twenty years down the road,” said Flannelly.
Officers can grow facial hair but it can’t be anything that’s too unique or out of the ordinary, it must be properly groomed and it has to remain that way for safety equipment such as masks. Chief Flannelly said it can’t affect the performance of duties. Tattoos must not go below the wrists or hands and nothing above the neckline.
Chief Flannelly said it's unclear if this new policy will help in recruiting but it's a start.
“The most important thing is to get the right person, now whether they have a tattoo or not, I've never felt that we should disqualify somebody for that and we wouldn't want to lose anyone because of that,” said Flannelly.
West Lafayette Police Chief Troy Harris has other plans for his officers.
“What we're going to do, certain times of the month, we are going to allow our officers to wear beards but they are going to have to make a donation to a certain organization,” said Harris.
This was the previous policy for LPD before the new one went into effect.
“It's a way for us to have our cake and eat it too," said Harris. "Our guys will be able to have facial hair and we'll be able to give back and team up with organizations in our community too, it's a win-win."
Chief Flannelly said LPD will work on creating new fundraising tactics moving forward.