Law enforcement officials attend tattoo seminar in Ardmore

By: Amanda Brown Email
By: Amanda Brown Email

ARDMORE, OK--A picture is worth a thousand words and so are tattoos. The Oklahoma department of corrections is teaching area law enforcement the hidden messages behind specific tattoos.

All it took was one tattoo spotted during a traffic stop to help authorities in California solve a 4 year old cold case.

"He realized that the picture that was tattooed on his chest was the actual crime scene from the homicide in 2004 so he was arrested and convicted on homicide " said Melissa Townsend with ODC.

More than a hundred people showed up for Wednesday's tattoo seminar at the Carter County health department, including law enforcement from 5 different counties. Organizers said identifying a tattoo can help officers understand just who they are dealing with.

"A lot of officers need this training because we are seeing so much more tattooing which definitely means something, and the more they're educated the more they know what this means the more they know how to deal with the individual" said Judy Cavnar with the Health Department.

Melissa Townsend with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said the seminar was designed to give area officials a working knowledge of criminal tattoos for gang identification, and to teach them to look for hidden messages within those tattoos that could help keep them safe.

"Tattoos mean a lot and the offenders that are in our system have tattoos that to the naked eye you might not understand what exactly they mean or where they come from, They hide very important things that symbolize their particular security threat or prison gang" said Melissa Townsend ODC.

Love County Sheriff Joe Russell said this information could protect his deputies and he will now pay more attention to tattoos.

"It was real interesting i think there was a lot of good points brought out that could help the officers out in the field and people dealing with the inmates and stuff" said Russell.

The seminar also covered officer safety and ways of detecting contraband.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on May 29, 2012 at 06:09 AM
    Is there anybody anywhere who does not profile others?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 29, 2012 at 09:09 AM in reply to
      Wrong question! Is there anyone anywhere that does not desire to be profiled?
  • by confused on May 27, 2012 at 04:05 AM
    I dont know if you guys were watching the same thing i was watching but there was nothing said about profiling or singling anyone out for tatoos. if you were listening it was a class to educate officers on how to recognize gang tatoos and what they mean. they even said this information was gathered by DOC. I have tatoos myself and I have no fear of being herassed by cops because there is nothing on me that is gang related. I think some of you should have payed more attention to the story before you posted a coment.
  • by Please read the story before opening your mouth Location: Sherman on May 26, 2012 at 02:31 AM
    It you have nothing to hide then SHUT up! There not trying to find a message in your dead father or mothers name or your lips or butterflies or kids name etc. And they didn't say everyone who has or gets a tattoo is a criminal (a lot of police has a tattoo of some sort) but a number of people do go down that road to be part of and involved with things that are illegal. This was a good thing to do as the influence of drug gangs move into small towns from Mexico and the west. I have a feeling you won't hesitate to call the police(the same one's your bashing) when your in trouble.
  • by things a blind man can see Location: ardmore,ok on May 25, 2012 at 09:18 AM
    going to be a lot of stereo-typing...just by having a tat that officers don't understand.i see harassment in the near future!remember,you heard it here first!
  • by truth Location: in anonymous wife's arms on May 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
    Did any of any college graduates actually read this story??????????
  • by Clueless in Texoma on May 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
    I guess I'm just clueless as to WHY non-criminals would want tattoos in the first place? Tattoos were a "symbol" of the prison brotherhood, were they not? Just don't understand the need to put PERMANENT markings all over your body. If I had a business I would have a no-show tattoo policy, because I think they look tacky, especially the ones that are gruesome and vulgar. I know all of you tattoo addicts are gonna fire back on this comment, but I think the law enforcement training was important and necessary, especially with the local increased gang activity. No offense intended, just a different point of view.
    • reply
      by The History Professor on May 25, 2012 at 03:04 AM in reply to Clueless in Texoma
      I wish you were smart.
    • reply
      by April on May 25, 2012 at 06:24 AM in reply to Clueless in Texoma
      Not really firing back about your comment, but might I suggest educating yourself on the origins of tattooing before commenting. In my opinion, you seem to have lived a rather sheltered life. Tattooing is art. It's history and expression and for most that have them, deep rooted emotions are tied to their tats. I'm not an addict. I only have one that was done over 10 yrs ago. A cluster of butterflies symbolizing myself and my children. Most people in my life don't even know I have it. I do want more and I think I'm long over due for another :)
  • by Legal Beagle Location: Denison on May 24, 2012 at 01:53 PM
    REALLY!? I can think of a million different things they could have spent tax dollars on that would have benefited them way more than learning how to decode a tramp stamp or a mural entitled "ocean life" across someone's shoulder blades. How about I got it because I was drunk or I wanted to honor my cancer-ridden mother.
  • by Edward on May 24, 2012 at 01:51 PM
    Do the law enforcement up there in Ardmore not have more important things to worry about??? Every other story I read is about drugs, shootings, pit bull attacks and sex offenders in "the safest community in Texoma"
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM in reply to Edward
      Actually they don't have more important things to worry about. The reason you see all these stories about Ardmore, is that they ARE doing their jobs catching the criminals. Sherman & Denison has just as big a drug problem as they do, but law enforcement isn't doing enough to catch them. Also, if you look in the police reports provided on another website, you will see all the unreported crime in Sher/Den. It just don't get the air-time on KXII.
  • by Zyklon B Location: The Voice on May 24, 2012 at 09:50 AM
    I have a set of lips tattoed on my backside. Think the cops can interpret THAT?
    • reply
      by Fritz Haber on May 24, 2012 at 02:14 PM in reply to Zyklon B
      YEP, YOUR AN A#$ FACE
  • by SS Location: south of the red on May 24, 2012 at 07:46 AM
    OMG!! Seriously?? Great use of tax dollars! GEEESH!!I LOVE my tats. I will have more. And wouldn't that be only circumstantial evidence?? Can you PROVE that's what it means?? For the love of God...small minds, limited intelligence, even less common sense.
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