KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Law enforcement agencies are having a hard time recruiting new officers these days, leading the Missouri Highway Patrol to reach out to a whole new demographic of applicants.

Until now the patrol didn’t allow people with tattoos to even apply, but now they’re welcoming those with tattoos or brands to try out to be a trooper.

The agency announced the change to their uniform policy online Tuesday, saying even those with a full sleeve of tattoos can apply, as long as they wear a long sleeve uniform year-round.

The Grimm Tattoo Parlor in Westport is one of Kansas City’s oldest shops, housing four generations of ink artists. Wes Grimm owns the place now and says his clients come from all walks of life with different lines of work.

“I still think you’d have trouble getting a job if you had a full face of tattoos,” he admitted.

Grimm told KCTV5 News he has had many customers who are law enforcement officers.

“Quite a few yeah. I tattooed all the Kansas City SWAT guys about 10 years ago,” he said.

Different agencies around the metro have different policies on the matter. The Kansas City Police Department allows officers to show their tattoos on the job, while Overland Park says they’re OK, if they’re covered.

“It has been getting a lot more lax, more accepted in the last few years,” Grimm said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that their policies would evolve.”

While metro residents KCTV5 News spoke with Wednesday had mixed thoughts on officers having visible tattoos, the Pew Research Center says about 38 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

MHP officials said they can’t afford to exclude that many people from their applicant pool anymore, so the next time a driver is pulled over, they should not be surprised if the officer is inked.

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