A police officer in New Haven, Connecticut is facing termination from his department due to his facial tattoos, according to a report from Fox 61.
Officer Jason Bandy became a New Haven PD officer back in 2008. When he was hired onto the force, Bandy already had a number of tattoos on his body, but none openly showing on his face. During his time as an officer he added tattoos to his hands and neck, but did not receive any discipline because of them.
A New Haven police officer, who's come under scrutiny for his tattoos, has agreed to cover them while on the job, but not all involved are satisfied with that solution. https://t.co/WGqiIJ4Eoy
— New Haven Register (@nhregister) March 28, 2019
He served for about a year, until an incident arose that led to Bandy being fired. According to reports, in 2009 Officer Bandy called out sick from his shift. That same day, he got into a drunken altercation at a local bar, eventually leading to his termination.
However, Bandy was hired back on as an officer in 2011. In between the times that he was serving, he got new tattoos… on his face.
Bandy has the Latin words ‘veni vidi vici’ (I came, I saw, I conquered) as well as the letter ‘D’ for Detroit brandished on his head near his hairline. He claims that each tattoo has significant meaning about his life and his family.
But Bandy says dealing with losing his job years ago actually made him better when he got the position back.
“It is a big part of who I am. I have learned a lot about myself, about people, about this profession because of that. And that has helped me over my years. It has helped me become more genuine, it has helped me become more humane and it has helped me basically respect and understand people more because I went through something. That has made me into a better police officer,” Bandy said.
During deliberations on the issue Wednesday night of this week, Bandy wore cover-up makeup to hide the ink.
Otonel Reyes is the interim police chief for the New Haven department. Reyes says that it’s not a discrimination issue, but yet one of common sense. To him it’s about maintaining the image of the department. Though tattoos may be more common now than ever, the public’s perception of law enforcement needs to be professional in a time of major scrutiny.
“We’re not individuals here,” said Reyes. We’re part of a team. And, when you put tattoos on your face, you impact the image with that.”
But Bandy says he’s being treated differently than other officers. The department’s standards specifically state that officers are not to wear excessive makeup, jewelry, or have sideburns, but claimed there was nothing about facial tattoos.
New Haven Police Officer Jason Bandy was arrested, Tuesday; http://bit.ly/8T6WtW
— WTNH News 8 (@WTNH) December 2, 2009
Bandy reportedly said that other officers get away with wearing makeup and jewelry on the job every day. Officer Bandy has since filed a gender discrimination suit with the Commission on Equal Opportunity, claiming that those female officers were allowed to violate the guidelines without backlash while his job was at risk for a going against a policy that does not exist.
No decision has been made yet on how to handle Bandy’s tattoos, but after department heads requested that he have them surgically removed, his attorney said that is going too far.
“Telling him to have facial tattoos surgically removed was too severe,” said the local union attorney.
Bandy and the union said that simply using cover-up to hide that tattoos would be fine if the department was lenient in extraneous circumstances, like the rain, but the union said that this set the officer up for failure, as police often face the elements.
“This is about treating people with respect. This is about following rules,” Bandy said, referring to the lack of a tattoo policy. “I am being treated in the manner that I was taught not to treat people.”