Parent complains of illegal tattooing
When Bryan Hess’s 16-year-old son came home with an unexpected tattoo on his chest a week and a half ago, the Marion father was not happy.
“It’s one of those things I’d like to have known about before it happened, of course,” Hess said. “I was concerned that it happened without us knowing about it.”
Now Marion police are investigating an unlicensed tattoo artist allegedly operating out of a Marion barbershop.
They are also investigating the artist as well as the owner of Mike’s Barber Shop for a tattoo given to a minor without notarized parental consent.
“It was reported to us a minor received a tattoo from an unlicensed tattoo artist,” police chief Tyler Mermis said. “I know the parent was not happy about his kid getting a tattoo from an unlicensed person.”
Because Kansas law requires notarized permission from a parent for a minor to be tattooed, it’s typical for tattoo parlors to require customers to show identification, Mermis said.
Mermis said he doesn’t know how long the tattoo artist might have been working in Marion but said his understanding was that the tattoo artist moved to Marion County from another state.
Mermis said he was not aware of other tattoos at this time.
Chiquita Coggs, executive director of the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, said tattoo licenses must be obtained from the cosmetology board. Both the establishment and the tattoo artist must be licensed.
“The license has to be on display in the facility,” Coggs said.
When a minor is tattooed, the parent or guardian must give written consent and be present during the tattoo process, Coggs said. Failure to do that is a class A misdemeanor, she said.
“There’s more than one business type taking place in one facility, and there should be separation of facilities,” Coggs said.
Aubrie Pryer, compliance supervisor for the cosmetology board, said a tattoo facility must be inspected and obtain a zero-violation report before opening.
Pryer said the police department had sent a complaint form to the cosmetology board, even though police investigation is ongoing. The board appreciates that.
“We would be really grateful if the law enforcement community would take this as seriously as we do,” Pryer said. “We’re very limited on what we can do as far as investigation and inspecting an unlicensed practice.
“The relationship between law enforcement and the board needs to be strengthened.”
What happens next depends on how law enforcement handles the matter, Pryer said.
“Really, the only authority we have is administrative fines, and we have cease-and-desist authority,” Pryer said.
Coggs added: “We do have the authority to take it forward into civil court.”
Police can also refer the matter to criminal court.
It’s a health risk to get a tattoo from someone who isn’t licensed, Coggs said.
Inspection reports for licensed facilities can be viewed on the cosmetology board’s website, Pryer said.
Additionally, staff will tell callers whether a facility is licensed, Coggs said.
“We are particularly interested in making sure our public is protected,” Coggs said. “That’s our mission.”
“When someone comes from out of town or out of state, it’s a good idea to see if they have the proper license,” Mermis said.
Mermis also advised seeing whether the environment of a tattoo parlor was sterile, to prevent getting infection.
Sonya Sprouse, director of licensing for Kansas Board of Barbering, said Mike’s Barber Shop, owned by Mike Darrow, is licensed, but only for barbering.
“I have no comment,” Darrow said when contacted.