A California police force is in trouble with Lego after using its signature yellow heads to hide the faces of suspected criminals

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A California police force is in trouble with Lego after using its signature yellow heads to hide the faces of suspected criminals
The police department in Murrieta, California has been editing Lego heads over suspects' photos on social media.Murrieta Police Dept. via AP
  • A California police department has edited Lego heads onto suspects to protect their identities.
  • The Murrieta Police Department says it's doing it to comply with a new law.
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A Southern California police department has found itself in trouble with Lego after it started editing the toy company's famous yellow heads onto criminal suspects.

Police in Murrieta, a city south of Los Angeles, have been posting images of their activities to an Instagram and say they are using Lego heads to abide by new legislation.

Introduced in January, the new state law, Assembly Bill 994, requires police in California to protect the identities of suspects involved in nonviolent crimes.

Authorities can release these identities only under special circumstances, such as tracking down a suspect if authorities believe they could be a threat to the community.

"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 department wrote in an Instagram post on March 18.

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"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," they said.

Photo editors in the police department have been getting creative with the new system to comical effect.

In one image from the Instagram page, disgruntled Lego faces are edited onto two individuals being arrested; in another, the suspect has been represented with a Lego man featuring a five-o'clock shadow; while a man in the back of a police car is depicted with a crying Lego face.

But the department's posts also attracted the attention of Lego, which was not happy with how the Murrieta Police Department was using its famous faces.

A California police force is in trouble with Lego after using its signature yellow heads to hide the faces of suspected criminals
Screenshots show Lego faces edited onto suspects and posted to the Murrieta PD's Instagram page.Screenshot/ Instagram Murrieta PD

"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," Jeremy Durrant, a lieutenant with Murrieta PD, said in a statement to Fox News Digital last week.

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"We are currently exploring other methods to continue publishing our content in a way that is engaging and interesting to our followers," Durrant said.

The department may now have to turn to its stash of Barbie and Shrek faces, which also appear on the Instagram page, to protect suspects' anonymity.

Corey Jackson, a member of the California Assembly and the new law's primary sponsor, said Murrieta residents could see time spent editing Lego faces as a waste of tax dollars.

"Do they want people, who are being paid with their tax dollars, be paid to put Lego faces on people so it can be shown on social media? While they could be doing other things that could be protecting them?" Jackson told the Associated Press. "That's for them to decide."

Business Insider has reached out to Lego and the Murrieta Police Department for comment.

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