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Lego Asks California Police Department to Stop Using Its Images on Suspect Photos

Lego Asks California Police Department to Stop Using Its Images on Suspect Photos

A photo of suspects with faces covered by Lego heads. (Murrieta Police Department)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

3/22/2024

Updated: 3/24/2024

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The Murrieta Police Department has confirmed it will stop using Lego heads to cover faces of arrestees on social media following a company request to do so.
“Yes, the Lego Group reached out to us on [March 19] and respectfully asked us to refrain from using their intellectual property in our social media content, which, of course, we understand and comply with,” Lt. Jeremy Durrant told The Epoch Times in an email.
“We are currently exploring other methods to continue publishing our content in a way that is engaging and interesting to our followers,” he added.
The Lego Group did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
The police department, located in Riverside County about 30 miles north of Camp Pendleton, began drawing public attention recently after using images of Lego heads to cover the faces of defendants in photos posted on Facebook and other social media sites.
The police department explained in a social media post Monday that they were covering arrestees’ faces in compliance with California law.
Assembly Bill (AB) 994, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Sept. 23, went into effect Jan. 1. It requires agencies to remove suspect mugshots from social media after 14 days, unless the person in the image is a fugitive or an imminent threat to public safety.
Penal Code 13665 also prohibits agencies from sharing photos of defendants arrested for nonviolent crimes.
Lego "respectfully asked us to refrain," said a Murrieta police lieutenant. (Murrieta Police Department)

Lego "respectfully asked us to refrain," said a Murrieta police lieutenant. (Murrieta Police Department)

Police departments can continue sharing the photos if it is justified by a legitimate law enforcement interest, according to AB 994.
When introducing AB 994 last year, Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) said the bill “brings more equality and justice to every Californian, by ensuring that no one is assumed of being guilty or being a particular gender.”
He also claimed it protected privacy rights and protected defendants from gender discrimination.
“True justice is fairness!” Mr. Jackson said in a bill analysis. “Equal protection under law should also have come with an equal protection of privacy and gender expression.”
Before the law was enacted on Jan. 1, California regulations regarding published mug shots required law enforcement to remove social media images within 14 days if requested by a defendant, or their legal representative.
The defendant also had to prove that his or her record had been sealed; the charge had been dismissed, expunged, pardoned, or eradicated; or that he or she had been found not guilty.
Those requirements have been deleted from the new law, which requires all photos to be removed after the two-week time period.
Mr. Jackson also authored a bill last year to end the use of police dogs for arrest and crowd control, but that legislation failed after law enforcement came out strongly against it.
A new law requires that suspect mug shots be removed from social media after 14 days unless the suspect is a fugitive or a threat. (Murrieta Police Department)

A new law requires that suspect mug shots be removed from social media after 14 days unless the suspect is a fugitive or a threat. (Murrieta Police Department)

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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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