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SPD Updates Policies to Reflect the Community We Serve

The Seattle Police Department has updated its policies regarding tattoos, jewelry, hair styles, and gender language to ensure our agency is inclusive and reflective of the community we serve.

SPD had received feedback from officers, recruits, and potential candidates about our policies prohibiting beards, visible tattoos, and other employee appearance standards. The employee appearance section of the manual was last updated in 2006 which, for historical reference, was a year before the release of the first iPhone. While the department’s practices and hiring standards regarding tattoos and facial hair have evolved over the last decade, the department had completed a comprehensive update to the employee appearance section of SPD’s manual.

SPD’s manual now includes clear standards allowing for some visible body art—so long as it is not obscene, offensive, or discriminatory in nature—and jewelry. The new policy also allows for beards, with exceptions in SWAT, Arson/Bomb Unit, and Harbor Patrol due to operational requirements.

The update also addresses issues of equity in the previous policy, revamping the standards to be gender-neutral, and clearly authorizing hair styles such as afros, braids, locks, and twists.

The department believes these changes will increase equity in our recruitment efforts, and further SPD’s goal of hiring officers who reflect the community we serve. For more information about SPD recruitment, please visit our department’s careers page.

In a separate update, the department has also refreshed its 2019 policies related to officer interactions with gender-diverse individuals. SPD’s manual now includes guidance to officers regarding preferred names and pronouns–including theirs, zie, and zir pronouns–and how to navigate conflicts in government records between a person’s chosen name and their gendered legal name, or deadname.