California Police Photoshop LEGO Heads to Cover Suspect Identities

California’s Murrieta Police Department (MPD) uses photoshopped LEGO heads to protect suspect identities in social media posts.

“Last week officers participated in a game of #HideAndSeek in the area of Madison Avenue and Murrieta Hot Springs Road. Fortunately for the officers, they were able to use GPS to locate the suspect,” one social media post stated. “Ultimately the suspect was arrested and booked into the #ByrdHouse for grand theft, possession of stolen property, and unlawfully possessing pepper spray due to him being a convicted felon.”

In another post, the caption read, “Recently, officers were dispatched to a report of a shoplifting which had just occurred in the area of Madison Avenue and Murrieta Hot Springs Road. Officers were flagged down and told two males had each stolen a shopping cart full of items #ThatsALotOfStuff and left the store without paying,.”

“A record check of the two males revealed they were both on #Probation for weapon charges and, you guessed it, #Theft. A search of the vehicle resulted in all of the stolen items from the store, narcotics, paraphernalia, burglary tools, and methamphetamine. Both males were arrested and booked into the #ByrdHouse for a variety of charges.”

The effort comes as California passed a law prohibiting law enforcement agencies from sharing images of suspects of nonviolent crimes.

MPD explained the move on Facebook, writing, “Why the covered faces? 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.”