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LAPD apologizes for flag faux pas

October 26, 2009 | 11:15 pm

U.S. Flag at LAPD HQ
The Los Angeles Police Department apologized Monday for an American flag faux pas at the Saturday grand opening of its new department headquarters downtown.

The opening ceremony included demonstrations by SWAT team members who rappelled down the face of the new building, as well as the display of an enormous American flag draped vertically from the roof.

The only trouble was, the flag was draped so that its field of stars was displayed on the viewer's right. Proper flag protocol, as written in Title 4 of the United States Code, requires that the field of stars be displayed on the viewer's left.

While that requirement might be considered an arcane bit of knowledge by most people, dozens of readers of The Times pointed out the mistake when they saw a photograph of the flag in Sunday's paper.

"Please teach the LAPD proper flag etiquete," commented Kathy Sturdevant of Pasadena. "When hung vertically, the stars (aka "union") belong on the upper left. This embarrassment could have been avoided with  a simple google search."
A few readers even asked if the Los Angeles Times had reversed the image.
"Did the Times print the photo backwards or was it really hung incorrectly?" asked Bruce Linsenmayer of Altadena.

The photo however was not flopped, as some suspected, and the LAPD offered an apology when it was informed of the error.
"There was certainly no disrespect intended to our national flag, and we will be more careful the next time we display it on a building," said Lt. John Romero, an LAPD spokesman.

-Ruben Vives

Photo: LAPD SWAT team members rappel down the new 10-story police headquarters during its grand opening ceremony.

Credit: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times.