Springfield police relax pot, tattoo rules to snare recruits

April 30, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Springfield police have relaxed policies on marijuana and tattoos to bolster recruiting and fill vacancies.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams told the City Council this week that he has 38 vacancies on his force after only 203 people applied last year to be officers, down from 500 in a typical year. That led to back-to-back academy classes with several open seats.

Williams blamed the coronavirus for making in-person recruiting a challenge and said high-profile events like the George Floyd murder had cast a negative outlook on policing.


One change the department has made is to allow officers to sport visible tattoos on their arms. The other revamps a policy that required recruits to have gone three years without using any drugs, including marijuana, before they could take the written and physical tests that are part of the pre-hiring process.

Now, recruits who come from states where marijuana is not legal for recreational use have to be marijuana-free for a year before they can take the written and physical tests. And for recruits who come from states where marijuana is legal for recreational use, there’s no waiting period.

But applicants must pass a drug test before they start working. And once on the force, department policy bars them from smoking marijuana, for recreational or medical use.