A ban issued by Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore is in effect Saturday, which forbids department personnel from publicly displaying the “thin blue line” flag.

Moore ordered the “thin blue line” flag and its replicas in patch and sticker form to be removed from police station lobbies, as well as police uniforms and department vehicles, said LAPD Lt. Letesia Ruiz.

The directive does not prohibit personnel from displaying the flag in their personal work spaces, however, nor on lockers or personal vehicles, Ruiz said.

The flag at issue depicts a black-and-white U.S. flag with a single blue stripe in the middle. The term “thin blue line” has long been divisive in American society between those who see it as a simple show of support for law enforcement and those who view it as an excuse for police abuse of authority. It refers to police as the “line” that separates order and public safety from lawlessness.

“It’s unfortunate that extremist groups have hijacked the use of the `Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist and bigoted views,” Moore wrote in a department-wide email, The Los Angeles Times reported. “Flags serve as powerful symbols with specific meanings.”

The move drew criticism from some defenders of the controversial flag.

“I love seeing our LAPD in the national news. Except this time for the most embarrassing reason. Calling Chief Michael Moore weak for caving to the communist Mayor. Grow a spine, support the troops and law and order,” retired LAPD Homicide Detective Sal LaBarbera tweeted.

The LAPD is facing scrutiny over a trio of use-of-force incidents involving officers that left three suspects dead in the first three days of the new year.

Moore’s five-year term as chief ends in June, but he has requested reappointment for a second term, writing in a letter to the Board of Police Commissioners in December that there remains “more work to be done” and he has a “strong desire” to continue leading the department.

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