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Lego asks Murrieta Police Department to stop using company's toy heads in mug shots

From Murrieta Poliuce Dept. Instagram: On January 1st, a new law went into effect that restricts the how and when law enforcement agencies in California share suspect photos & mugshots. The new law, Assembly Bill 994 & Penal Code 13665, now prohibits law enforcement from sharing suspect photos for nonviolent crimes, unless specified circumstances exist. Additionally, the new law requires agencies to remove suspect mugshots from social media after 14 days, unless special circumstances exist. 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 Murrieta Police Department used Lego toy images to conceal the faces of arrested suspects to abide by a new state law. The Lego company asked the department to cease the practice. (Murrieta Police Department)

The maker of Lego toys has asked the Murrieta Police Department of Riverside County to stop using digitally added Lego heads to hide the identities of suspects in mug shots.

The request comes after the department posted a photo on social media earlier this week of suspects with their faces hidden by the yellow heads, writing that they did so to comply with a new state law.

“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,” the post said.

Read more: Lego heads? California police department posts mug shots but without real faces

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1475 in 2021, prohibiting local law enforcement from publishing mug shots of suspects in nonviolent crimes. The Murrieta Police Department has instead used photoshopped Lego heads as a way around the regulation.

The state also passed AB 994 last year, which requires mug shots of any suspect to be removed from social media within 14 days unless there are special circumstances.

After the altered mug shots gained traction on social media, Lego asked the department to stop using the heads in their posts, Murrieta police Lt. Jeremy Durrant confirmed Friday. He emphasized that it was an amicable conversation and the department cooperated fully.

Read more: War in the toy aisle: Squishmallows and Build-A-Bear sue each other over 'copycat' accusations

Durrant previously told The Times in an email that the department has been obscuring faces in mug shots in various ways for the past couple of years, and the practice was not unusual.

Durrant told Fox News they are exploring other ways to publish content that interests and engages the public now that the Lego heads are off the table.

"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," the Murrieta Police Department said in a statement, according to Fox News.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.