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What does a tattoo say?

June 28, 2008

Re "LAFD tattoo coverup muddles real mission," Column, June 21

Los Angeles Fire Department brass and our union have haggled for many years over tattoos and other issues. But if a fire engine stopped in front of your burning home, you would see little or nothing on any of the firefighters to tell what race or sex they are, let alone the tattoos they may have. All you would see is well-covered bodies working to save lives and property belonging to someone they don't know. But if a firefighter visits the school of Sandy Banks' young daughter, does he have her full attention as she wonders whether his tattoos are a tribute to family, fallen firefighters or an off-duty lifestyle? Only in a perfect world is the mind not affected by what the eyes see. What is perceived as strong and bold by some may be perceived as provocative and threatening by others. Credibility must be earned.

James L. Stiglich

Van Nuys

The writer is a firefighter in the Los Angeles Fire Department.

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