Lego asks police department to stop using toy heads on suspect photos

A California police department said it would no longer use Lego heads to obscure suspects’ faces in social media posts, after the Lego Group requested the department cease the practice, citing intellectual property concerns.

“The Lego Group reached out to me on March 19th and respectfully asked us to refrain from using their intellectual property in our social media content,” Murrieta Police Department Lt. Jeremy Durrant said in a statement.

Durrant continued, “Which of course, we understand and will comply with.”

Durrant said the practice of using digitally altered images, including of the trademarked Lego head, has been in effect for several years — especially since 2021, when California passed a law prohibiting law enforcement from releasing photos of suspects for nonviolent crimes, “unless specific circumstances exist.”

The new law also mandates the removal of suspect mug shots from social media after 14 days, also barring special circumstances.

The Murrieta Police Department explained its practice of obscuring faces in a post on social media on March 18, after it garnered some attention online.

“The Murrieta Police Department prides itself in its transparency with the community, but also honors everyone’s rights & protections as afforded by law; even suspects. In order to share what is happening in Murrieta, we chose to cover the faces of suspects to protect their identity while still aligning with the new law,” the post last Monday read.

After receiving the request from the Lego Group last Tuesday, Durrant said the department would consider alternative approaches.

“I have no concerns with exploring other options to continue publishing our content in a way that is engaging and interesting to our followers,” Durrant said.

A spokesperson for the Lego Group declined to comment.

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