Metro Gang Unit asking Legislature for money to buy tattoo removal machine

Jan 31, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: 7:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Nick Godfrey is used to all the looks. He sees people look away all the time. Godfrey also understands why. It’s not every day you see someone covered in face tattoos.

“I try not to personalize it, but it definitely doesn’t feel good,” he said. “I got denied a job at Jiffy Lube the other day.”

Tuesday morning, though, Nick Godfrey didn’t try to hide any of his tattoos. He wanted people to look, and listen, and know that gang life is now part of his past.

“I have done a lot of bad in life and I have been to prison several times. Multiple felony convictions,” he said. “But I think the hardest part is when I look in the mirror. Even though I can quit the gang and I can separate myself from those people, sometimes I can’t separate myself from seeing that in the mirror every morning.”

(Winston Armani) (Winston Armani) (Winston Armani)

Godfrey is on a waitlist for the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit’s gang tattoo removal program.

About 20 people use the machine every year at the University of Utah. However, that laser machine has been broken for a year now. Tuesday’s meeting was part of an appropriations subcommittee meeting at the Utah Capitol to ask legislators for money to buy a new one.

“We are changing lives and we’re saving lives. That’s the biggest thing we can do,” Lt. Mike Schoenfeld said.

Schoenfeld is the director of the Salt Lake Area Metro Gang Unit. He says when someone decides to leave a gang, and get rid of their gang tattoos, it is a big deal. It’s also a sign they’re ready for a different life.

“That tattoo, to them, is as important to me as this badge on my chest here, right? It’s a brotherhood. It’s a bond. It’s a family,” said Lt. Schoenfeld said.

“That was the hardest thing I ever did, leaving my gang,” Godfrey said.

However, Godfrey also knows it’s tough when people can’t see the new man behind the old ink. That’s why he was at the Capitol telling his story.

“I have never been to Capitol Hill. I have never been in any of these buildings, so it’s a good feeling. I feel like a lot of doors are opening up for me,” Godfrey said.

All it took was a legislator to ask for the money for the laser machine. Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost spoke to the subcommittee to fund the machine for a one-time cost of $175,000.

“I, like many of you, firmly believe in giving everybody a second chance,” Rep. Dailey-Provost said to the subcommittee members.

That second chance is all Godfrey is asking for. It would make all those looks at the grocery store or at a job interview go away.

“People love successes,” Godfrey said. “So, I don’t know. Maybe I can be that success.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Police lights...
Eliza Pace

Pedestrian injured after being hit by car in crosswalk

A pedestrian was seriously injured after they were hit by a car in the crosswalk Thursday. 
7 hours ago
Police lights...
Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com 

Utah man dies in small-airplane crash in rural Wyoming

A Cache County man has been identified as the person killed in a plane crash that happened outside of Casper, Wyoming, earlier this week.
1 day ago
Three people died in this Kane County crash...
Andrew Adams

Family remembers two loved ones killed in crash near Kanab

Family members on Thursday remembered loved ones killed in a triple-fatal crash in Kane County.
1 day ago
SNOTEL snow survey...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah will likely set historic snow record Friday

Thursday was on track to make history in Utah, with the snowpack ready to inch past a 40-year-old record. It all came down to a tenth of an inch.
1 day ago
Granite District K9...
Matt Rascon, Eliza Pace, and Lauren Steinbrecher

KSL+: Guns at schools and what’s being done about it?

Amid an increase in gun threats and incidents at some Utah schools, one school district is taking matters into its own hands to try and keep students safe.
1 day ago
Lamont Dorrity...
Ayanna Likens

How exercise helps with Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson's disease is affecting more and more people across the nation. While there is no cure, one thing is showing promise in improving symptoms.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Metro Gang Unit asking Legislature for money to buy tattoo removal machine