Nationwide, creepy clown sightings and social media posts have put people on edge. On Tuesday, the Pocatello Police Department assures the community to remain calm after a local clown-related post turned out to be a hoax.
Sgt. Trent Whitney said a Pocatello High School student had been caught distributing a picture with a clown online to hundreds of people. The picture was a selfie with a clown cropped in. The picture prompted many parents to call the police, as well as several schools.
This is the first clown-related concern in Pocatello where police felt the need to investigate. Whitney said police take these matters very seriously, especially when it concerns schools.
While the picture is why many parents contact police, for Erica Barrus it was a Facebook profile with a clown profile picture that friend requested her son yesterday.
“My first instinct was to head to the Police Department to help them be aware that this is going on,” said Barrus.
Police said locally the clown problem seems to only happen online. People are getting tagged in clown-related posts well-outside the area, according to Whitney.
Due to the heightened fear of clowns, Whitney advises people to avoid wearing anything clown-related.
“Honestly, it’s for everybody’s safety,” he said. “My primary concern is if someone dresses up as a clown, the public is going to overreact to that.”
Barrus said parents need to be aware of who is connecting with their children on social media. Doing so helps parents be aware of what possible threats could be in the area.
She also has a message for those thinking of participating in the creepy clown frenzy.
“It’s zero tolerance policy here,” Barrus said. “It’s not going to fly and it’s not acceptable. Move it along.”
We were able to talk with a person who works as a clown in the area. They advised parents to tell their children to only approach clowns hired by family or friends. Also, to remember, clowns are fun people who happen to have makeup on.