Aspen police not concerned about ‘creepy clowns’

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday issued a news release advising residents to "steer costume choices away from creepy clowns."
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A recent nationwide surge in sightings of and suspicions about “creepy clowns” has prompted one area law enforcement agency to recommend against wearing such costumes this Halloween.

“With Halloween rapidly approaching, a reminder about safety is in order,” according to a statement sent Tuesday from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “In light of the situation, it is recommended to steer costume choices away from creepy clowns.”

In Aspen and Pitkin County, however, law enforcement authorities appear more amused than concerned about the creepy clown situation.

“I like clowns,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Wednesday. “I don’t even mind creepy clowns.”

Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn, known of late for his tongue-in-cheek posts on the Aspen Police Department’s Facebook page, said he’s been saving a particularly creepy clown photo for just such a posting.

“I would totally mock (the creepy clown phenomenon),” he said. “I don’t want anybody running around scaring people, but it’s just clowns. When did clowns get so scary?”

It may have started with John Wayne Gacy, the Chicago area serial killer who murdered scores of young boys in the 1970s and used to dress up as “Pogo the Clown” for children’s parties. However, simple internet searches reveal numerous news articles detailing recent threats or pranks allegedly engineered by mainly young people in the name of clowns.

“It’s the internet fad du jour,” DiSalvo said. “I think it’s much ado about nothing.”

Amber Barrett, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, said her statement Tuesday was prompted by concerns by a member of a “Vail mom’s Facebook group” who recently called with concerns over creepy clowns. The woman called a few times about the phenomenon, saying she had received “freaked out” messages from other mothers about the clowns, she said.

Residents also have reported seeing creepy clowns in Eagle County, Barrett said, adding that her department has received about five calls on the subject from concerned citizens.

“People have seen people dressing up as clowns and they don’t like it,” she said.

Finally, she noted that the Jefferson County public schools superintendent sent out a letter to parents last week refuting rumors that clowns were coming to shoot up the school.

“I personally wouldn’t want to be dressed up as a clown (this Halloween),” Barrett said. “People could retaliate against you.”

Still, Barrett noted in her statement that Eagle County authorities have not received any credible threats from creepy clowns or any reason to be concerned about the phenomenon. And while she emphasized that “creepy is not a crime,” she said Eagle County authorities will be monitoring the situation.

“It’s a little overblown,” Barrett said. “But we have to take it seriously.”

Not so much, however, in Pitkin County.

“Halloween is about the costumes,” DiSalvo said. “Steering people away from any costume — I don’t think it’s necessary.”

Both DiSalvo and Linn said they’ve received no calls from Pitkin County residents bothered by the creepy clown trend.

“I’m completely free of creepy clown concerns,” Linn said.

As DiSalvo said, it may be a heap of hype over nothing. Clown costumes are not popular in Aspen, said Chris Koch, a clerk at Carl’s Pharmacy. In fact, while the store on Main Street did have a “clown collar” available for sale Wednesday, there were no full clown costumes at all, he said.

“They’ve never been a big seller,” Koch said.


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