LEGO Loophole | God's World News

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LEGO Loophole

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    A police department in Murrieta, California, edited photos to add LEGO heads to cover suspects’ faces. (Murrieta Police Dept. via AP)


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Did California police just arrest . . . a LEGO minifigure?

Police departments sometimes upload mugshots to social media. They say that can boost community engagement. The Murrieta Police Department in Southern California added a twist. Suspects’ faces in photos were covered with funny pictures of LEGO minifigure heads. But last week, LEGO company officials asked the police to stop.

On January 1, a new law took effect in California. It requires authorities to remove booking photos from social media after 14 days. (Booking is the process of creating an arrest record.) This builds on an older law that prevents posting pictures of non-violent offenders. The only exceptions are for matters of public safety. When dangerous criminals are on the run, police can publish their images. But arrested suspects have a right to privacy.

Some might think, “Wait, why should we care about the privacy of people who commit crimes?” In the United States, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty. But mugshots on social media can make suspects look guilty, even if they’re not. A court might fail to prove guilt. But internet photos live on.

Imagine you’re hiring someone to work at your company. One candidate seems perfect for the job! But then you search that person’s name online. A mugshot pops up. You dig deeper and find out that the candidate was aquitted for the crime. (Acquitted means judged “not guilty.”) But still—do you feel different about hiring that person?

Police departments can evade the new rules by covering the faces of suspects in photos. That’s why the Murietta Police Department turned to LEGO. In March, the altered images went viral. That’s when LEGO reached out.

LEGO “respectfully asked us to refrain from using their intellectual property in our social media content, which, of course, we understand and will comply with,” says Murrieta’s Lieutenant Jeremy Durrant. “We are currently exploring other methods to continue publishing our content in a way that is engaging and interesting to our followers.”

Intellectual property isn’t the only issue. California lawmaker Corey Jackson points out that these LEGO mugshots are a loophole. The Murietta police technically didn’t break any laws. But they went around the rules to keep posting booking photos.

“If law enforcement wants the public to trust them . . . how does their active gamesmanship on trying to skirt the law themselves help them in achieving that?” asks Jackson.

Social media trends like “Mugshot Mondays” can help police reach the community. Some authorities see it as a way of staying transparent and keeping people informed. But should officials look for loopholes in the laws they enforce?

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. — Proverbs 16:8