Five years ago there was a massive increase in clown crime alerts. Was it just that people were generally afraid of clowns? Or had the Joker finally succeeded in his 80-year plans? The answer remains unclear. But, like the United States Joint Regional Intelligence Center noted at the time (emphasis added):
In the most recent trend since August 2016, dozens of sightings of people dressed as threatening clowns, often in dark or isolated areas, have been reported to police and media across the country. Many alleged unverified sightings have been shared on social media. Some variations involve unsubstantiated and mass-transmitted allegations on social media that groups of clowns are planning to attack schools.
The JRIC has no information indicating a specific and credible threat involving sightings of clowns, including an organized criminal or terrorist plot. THELaw enforcement personnel investigating reports of suspicious clowns should be aware that they can sometimes carry items that can be used as weapons. Increased public awareness of the trend and the uncontrolled spread on social media of related texts and images are likely to generate additional sightings from copier clowns eager to join this activity.
Again: this was real life, not Gotham City police blotter.
This distinction is crucial, because at least in Gotham City, police are reportedly considering reviewing a sudden wave of reports of menacing clowns carrying deadly weapons disguised as clown accessories. But like Motherboard recently reported, this is the exact opposite of how the US police actually responded:
Motherboard recently requested specific fall 2016 clown records from the United States Police. The departments of Amherst, Austin, Champaign, Chicago, Columbus, Fort Worth, Houston, Jacksonville, Lansing, Newark, Phoenix, San Francisco and San Jose, however, reported that diligent research revealed no records of a response to the clown threat, no monitoring of clown-themed social media accounts, and no full analysis of the problem. Unchecked, the clowns thrived, raising the question of what the ultimate costs of police inaction might be. Last October, residents of London, Ontario were confronted with a mysterious clown holding balloons; recently, residents of Annandale, Minnesota, were irritated by a local buffoon.
“The guy is standing in front of someone’s house,” said a local tavern owner, “barking his dog.”
That being said, some police services do intensify monitoring of activities related to clowns, especially among high school students. Of The Guardian:
Vague threats from social media users disguised as menacing clowns in 2016 led to intense police surveillance of their accounts and an effort to “identify those who may be responsible,” according to records from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD ) from Washington DC.
A document from October 3, 2016, titled Social Media Clown Threats, outlined actions taken over the past four days regarding âthreats from accounts created by strangers with profile pictures of clownsâ on âpopular social media sitesâ. today like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. “.
Incidents reported in the police intelligence document included a middle school student who was suspended for bringing a clown mask to school, and a few unsuccessful attempts to obtain warrants to obtain information on multiple network accounts social clowns. In one particularly heartbreaking case, an eighth grade girl said: “She certainly saw two people wearing clown masks as they walked the Somerset dirt road towards Alabama Ave near Liff Market. “. The clowns weren’t armed, according to the student, and didn’t threaten her, or really do nothing but be clowns. However, the police concluded, the situation deserved “further investigation”.
There was no further information on the follow-up to this clown threat.
Cops ignored threat posed by menacing clowns [Tim Marchman / Vice]
Threats from menacing clowns led DC police to monitor online accounts [Jason Wilson / The Guardian]
Picture: Public domain Going through NeedPix