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Police to Stop Sticking Lego Heads Onto Suspect’s Faces After Lego Reportedly Said Please Stop

A police department in California that started obscuring its suspects’ faces with Lego heads will cease the practice after the toy company reportedly reached out and told it to please stop.

The Murrieta Police Department in California has been hiding the faces of its arrested suspects for years, often in a variety of ways. Last year, for instance, the police department Photoshopped the faces of Shrek and Donkey onto two people it arrested for allegedly stealing $1,800 worth of merchandise from Target. The department’s recent practice of sticking Lego heads, which often boast comical expressions, on the faces of people it arrests didn’t make everyone laugh, though.

Murrieta Police Department Lt. Jeremy Durrant told Fox News last Friday that it would stop using Lego heads in suspect photos, which it shares to social media, after being contacted by Lego.

“The Lego Group reached out to us and respectfully asked us to refrain from using their intellectual property in our social media content which of course we understand and will comply with,” Durrant said, according to Fox News. “We are currently exploring other methods to continue publishing our content in a way that is engaging and interesting to our followers.”

Gizmodo reached out to the Murrieta Police Department and Lego for comment on Tuesday but did not immediately receive a response.

Some may be asking: How did the police department get into the habit of pasting Lego heads—and hiding the person’s face in general—onto pictures of suspects? In a Facebook post last November, the police department said it decided to adopt the practice after the California Legislature passed AB 1475 in 2021, which banned police departments in the state from posting booking photos of suspects for non-violent crimes except under specific circumstances.

“Some of the reasons [the decision was taken] were the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law [and] the effects a post could have on an individual or their families outside of the criminal proceedings they may be subject to (public shaming),” the post read.

In addition, a new law that came into effect in California in January, AB 994, requires law enforcement to remove suspects’ mugshots from social media after 14 days. The Murrieta Police Department still has its obscured mugshots dating to at least last year up on its Facebook account, so it’s not clear whether this new law applies to photos on social media where the suspect’s face is not shown.

Lego’s purported request that the police department stop using its toys to cover the faces of people suspected of committing crimes makes sense. The last thing a beloved toy company like Lego needs is for parents and kids to start associating its iconic Lego heads with crime or get the idea that committing a crime is fun because police used Lego heads in a photo.

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