by Marissa Perlman


YUBA CITY (CBS13) — A new policy change in Sutter County now allows deputies to sport sleeves: tattoos that is.

The sheriff reversed a long-standing policy that required officers to cover their tattoos. Deputies across the area are now frequenting tattoo shops. Some tell us, they’re proud of their ink — it’s become a part of their identity.

“It’s a freedom of expression, and I want them to be able to display that,” said Sutter County Sheriff Brandon Barnes.

“I think years in the past there was the stigma that tattoos were bad, and now that’s not true,” said Undersheriff Scott Smallwood.

Swipe through photos of deputies’ ink!

Corrections Officer Kaitlin Olson agreed with Smallwood. Deputies are now finding that by putting their tattoos on display, it helps them relate to people in the community and do their jobs better.

“It normally gets related to the big burly biker guys that are so scary, that no one wants to talk to,” Olson said. “It shows we are just regular humans like everyone else.”

Other departments, such as the Stanislaus County Sheriff and Stockton Police departments, have similar policies that allow visible tattoos, but in the Sacramento County Sheriff and West Sacramento Police Department, deputies need to be cover up.

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“They’re still people, they just have tattoos, they’re just expressing themselves,” said Angelina Oseguera, a Yuba City resident.

Neighbors CBS13 spoke with say they actually trust officers more if they see them with tattoos.

“I feel like having tattoos, you can get to know a person more. When you see them, you can kind of know their story and know what they’re about,” Katie Clancy said.

And for these officers, their ink is a symbol of their own stories.

“I think anything that I put on my body is sacred to me, and it’s something that I’ll take to my grave — whether that is an officers badge or a tattoo,” Smallwood said.

There are some restrictions that deputies have to follow: the tattoos cannot be on their neck, face or hands, cannot contain a gang symbol, or have any vulgar content.

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