An Internal Affairs investigation has found a Philadelphia officer did not violate department policy by having a Nazi tattoo on his left arm.
Photos of Officer Ian Hans Lichterman and his tattoos spread across social media late last summer, prompting angry reaction online and an Internal Affairs investigation.
The Internal Affairs investigation cleared Lichterman of any violations, closing the case in December, police said. They did not respond to follow-up questions inquiring whether any specific determinations were made about the tattoos.
Meanwhile, nearly five months after the controversy erupted, police have yet to deliver a promised tattoo policy for its ranks.
Mayor Jim Kenney, who previously called the tattoos “disturbing” and “incredibly offensive,” released a statement that voiced the same reaction. But without an existing tattoo policy, Kenney said police could not dismiss Lichterman.
His statement reads:
“I am deeply offended by the tattoo and I think it is completely inappropriate for any law enforcement officer to have such a tattoo given its impact on those they are sworn to protect and serve. Since the investigation determined that the officer couldn’t be dismissed because PPD does not have a policy against tattoos, we will draft such a policy so this cannot happen again.
Additionally, PPD will continue to conduct thorough background checks and psych tests for new recruits. We also work to foster a culture of acceptance, diversity and inclusion throughout the police academy and the force.
That spirit has been on display the past several weeks as officers have protected thousands of individuals’ right to protest and done so with respect and with dignity, and not a single arrest. I am confident that the actions of this officer is not reflective of our entire force.”
On Tuesday, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, reiterated his prior statements defending Lichterman, saying there was “nothing wrong” with the tattoos.
“There was nothing there to investigate,” McNesby said. “He had a tattoo. There was no policy. He had it for years. He had no discipline. There was no issue with it.”
McNesby said he did not know what investigators determined the eagle to represent. He declined to make Lichterman available for comment.
After the photos spread across social media, Philadelphia police pledged to determine an “appropriate policy” regarding tattoos, saying the department “does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form.”
A tattoo policy has not yet been finalized, police said Monday.