(NewsNation) — Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore has banned the display of the “thin blue line” flag at public events and station lobbies.
The mandate, issued Jan. 21, comes in response to the flag’s divisive symbolism — some believe it represents support for law enforcement, while others say it’s become a symbol of far-right ideology and white supremacism.
“While I do not personally view the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ in the same manner as the community member and others, its display in our public lobbies can be divisive,” Moore said in part of a statement issued to NewsNation affiliate KTLA.
Jerry Rodriguez, a former LAPD captain and former deputy commissioner for the Baltimore Police Department called the move “unfortunate.”
“Things like this where the officers, the rank and file, the unions believe that it is a further demonstration of their lack of support could have a negative impact on morale, productivity, and that relates right to the crime surge,” he said on an appearance on Morning in America on Monday.
The flag in question is a black-and-white colored U.S. flag with a single blue stripe in the middle.
Moore has also prohibited using the thin blue line patch on officer uniforms or bumper stickers on police vehicles. Displaying the flag on non-public property such as an officer’s locker, personal workspace or personal vehicle is still allowed, officials said.
Rodriguez said it’s unfortunate because he doesn’t think there’s a “quick fix.”
“Rather than having an open discussion with this one individual, the chief chose to take down all the flags in public areas of the departments. I understand his actions; we don’t need things that distract from the day-to-day work,” he said.
However, Rodriguez said the union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, and the officers don’t see necessarily see the chief’s actions this way and that is where the difficult work lies ahead.
“They see this as a very glaring, another example of the department not standing up for its rank and file. We know that policing is becoming a difficult job, more so because in some communities, there’s a lack of trust,” he said. “While the threat for the officers is getting higher and increasing, they’re feeling less and less supported by the communities they serve, and in this case, they’re saying by the chief who is supposed to protect them.”