Simon Cowell SURROUNDED BY COPS ... On Tiny Scooter

6/28/2012 11:32 AM PDT

Police were ALL OVER Simon Cowell this morning in Rhode Island -- providing a 4-cop escort just for the "X Factor" judge on his way to auditions ... while he rode on a dinky little scooter.

Simon usually gets a police escort when he's driven around for "X Factor" stuff, but he's typically holed up safely in a fancy car. The tiny scooter's a first.

Luckily, Simon didn't have to drive far -- the Dunkin' Donuts center (where auditions are being held) is only 4 blocks away from his hotel.