Lego urges California police department to stop using its toy heads for mugshot images

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Mar 28, 2024 at 12:17 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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In a truly bizarre story, a request has been made to a Southern California police department to discontinue the use of Lego heads when concealing the faces of suspects in images shared on social media platforms.

The Murrieta Police Department has been using Lego heads and emojis to obscure individuals’ faces in their social media posts, a practice observed since early 2023.

It all began innocently enough when the department decided to address California’s new law limiting the sharing of mugshots on social media. So, instead of plastering suspects’ faces all over the internet, they opted for a more colourful approach: Lego heads. Yes, you read that right. The iconic toy heads were repurposed as disguises for suspects in police lineups, a strategy which certainly raised eyebrows.

On 18 March 2024, assumingly in an attempt to answer the internet’s questions, the department posted an image on Instagram captioned: “Why the covered faces?” The image displayed a lineup of five individuals, each obscured by Lego heads depicting different expressions. The post also made mention of the new California law.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Murrieta Police Department (@murrietapd)

Now, we’ve all heard of creative solutions to complex problems, but using Lego heads as a disguise takes the cake. It’s a move that’s both bold and, well, a little bit baffling. But hey, creativity knows no bounds, right? Unfortunately, it seems that people at Lego weren’t too thrilled about their beloved toy being used in such a unique manner.

In a statement, Lieutenant Jeremy Durrant shared that the company had reached out to the department and “respectfully requested that we abstain from incorporating their intellectual property into our social media content, a request we fully comprehend and will adhere to.”

Throughout the US, law enforcement agencies have frequently utilised social media platforms to share photo galleries in initiatives like “Mugshot Mondays” and “Wanted Wednesdays” in an attempt to foster community engagement. However, experts increasingly highlight the detrimental impact of disseminating such images online. Mugshots can unfairly imply guilt for individuals awaiting trial and can present significant obstacles for those seeking to move forward from a criminal conviction, hindering their employment prospects and perpetually haunting them, as reported by The Guardian.

Following California’s recent legislation, police departments and sheriff’s offices are now obligated to remove any booking photos they have shared on social media, even those of individuals arrested for violent crimes, within 14 days unless specific circumstances persist. Such circumstances could include if the individual remains a fugitive and poses an immediate threat to public safety.

So, what’s next for the Murrieta Police Department’s social media strategy? Well, it seems they’ll have to put their thinking caps on and come up with a new game plan. Who knows? Maybe they’ll try emojis next time, or maybe they’ll take a more traditional approach. Whatever they decide, one thing’s for sure: the Lego fiasco has certainly left its mark on the department’s social media presence.

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