To Chicago Police Officer Daniel Medici, the tattoo on his body — a halo and wings honoring fellow Marines who didn’t make it home from Iraq — is sacred.
So he filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging a new departmental rule that forces all cops to cover up their ink, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
He’s not alone. Chicago Police Officers Dennis Leet and John Kukielka, who both have tattoos of Saint Michael — the patron and protector of police — are also named as plaintiffs on the suit, which seeks to strike a blow for tattooed cops citywide.
The police department last month introduced a rule requiring cops to cover up their tattoos that aren’t covered by long-sleeve shirts and pants with skin-toned bandages. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 quickly filed an unfair labor practice complaint, now followed by Medici’s suit.
“In the Marine Corps, Medici fought to preserve freedoms enjoyed by all citizens of the United States, including freedom of expression and speech,” the lawsuit states.
The rule flies in the face of their first amendment rights to free speech, according to the suit.
All three officers bringing the suit became cops years before the police department changed its policy on June 8.
“The City failed to bargain with the police union before adopting the dress code policy change and did not consider fully alternatives to its broad-sweeping action,” the lawsuit states.
Officers are in jeopardy of suffering skin irritation and discomfort from the adhesive, as well as overheating in warm weather months, according to the suit.
It also claims the new rule is too broad and points to other municipalities that only ban officers from displaying tattoos that undermine the department’s values, such as ones that that display racism, sexism or obscenity.