A tattoo crackdown? U.S. Capitol Police set new body modification rules

Olivier Knox

Officers of the U.S. Capitol Police face new rules on the size and content of tattoos that might be seen by tourists, and a ban on "outwardly visible branding," National Journal reports.

It's all in a manual from the force's top brass, in a section entitled "Grooming Standards," that National Journal reports is causing a bit of grumbling among the officers affected.

It's not that they're defending tattoos showcasing "criminal gang affiliation, depictions of sexually explicit art, nudity, or violence, etc," the publication says. But size restrictions on visible tattoos could pose a headache for officers assigned to bike duty—when the sweltering D.C. weather leads them to wear short pants.At least fears that the wording of the "Body Modification" section might be a veiled ban on breast implants have been laid to rest, National Journal says:

The section states that 'body modification other than for medically necessary rehabilitative purposes or common cosmetic procedures is prohibited.' It goes on to define 'purposeful body modification' as including 'any outwardly visible branding, scarring, resection, [or] subcutaneous implantation.

But Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider told the publication that the section "doesn't actually" ban those enhancements, and National Journal reported that unnamed police union officials have concluded that the language doesn't forbid breast implants.

And the publication reported that there's still time to, um, modify the rules:

"Initially, the new general orders were to take effect on the last day of July. But the union has appointed a panel to start an intensive review next week, and discussions are expected between the union and acting Police Chief Thomas Reynolds that could impact a final version of the directives."

What about tattoos on members of Congress? The Roll Call newspaper covered that question extensively here.