California Law Prompts Cops To Photoshop Suspect Pics

photoshop faces of suspects
Officers in Murrieta photoshop faces of suspects, replacing them with Lego heads | Image by Murrieta Police Department/Instagram

What do Legos, police, and Photoshop have in common?

The Murrieta Police Department (MPD) in California happens to be the answer to that question. The department has gained attention for its creative approach to dealing with a new state law meant to protect the identities of suspected criminals. Officers in Murrieta have been photoshopping suspects’ faces, replacing them with Lego heads.

The law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2024, requires law enforcement agencies to prohibit the release of mugshots and booking photos of those accused of non-violent crimes. In addition, even mugshots that are allowed to be posted must be taken down after 14 days.

MPD has gotten playful with the new law. One photoshopped image shows two people handcuffed in the back of a cop car, one with a tearful Lego head covering their face and the other with an angry Lego grimace. Another shows two female Lego heads with big eyelashes and bold lips covering the faces of two individuals in a store.

“The [MPD] prides itself in its transparency with the community, but also honors everyone’s right and protections as afforded by law, even suspects,” the MPD stated in an Instagram post. “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.”

While the humorous photoshopping has garnered the department lots of online attention, with its Instagram page reaching nearly 34,500 followers, some argue that protecting the anonymity of non-violent offenders may not be the best idea.

“I remember a time when shaming criminals was a good deterrent,” said a social media user, responding to a tweet by the X account EndWokeness.

“If criminals don’t want their faces getting out there then perhaps they should follow the law,” wrote another X user.

Still, despite the new law, Murrieta is one of the safest cities in California, according to a press release by MPD.

“We remain dedicated to hiring the best officers, dispatchers, and professional staff. As we see the rate of violent crime increasing in California, it’s clear that our hiring practices, collaboration, innovation, and community engagement will keep Murrieta safe and ranked as one of the safest cities in California and the nation,” MPD Chief Anthony Conrad.

For its part, Dallas has seen a dip in overall violent crime over the last couple of years. However, both murders and property crimes increased in 2023, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The decline in violent crime played out against the backdrop of the Dallas Police Department’s longstanding staffing shortage. The department only fields around 3,000 officers despite a City analysis suggesting that approximately 4,000 are needed to properly maintain public safety and reduce police response times, which have been very high in recent years.

City officials only budgeted $654 million for the department this fiscal year, with the Dallas City Council opting to spend much less on law enforcement than other high-crime jurisdictions, like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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