SPOKANE, Wash. -- I have to be honest. It feels ridiculous to even talk about so-called, creepy clowns on TV.
In the grand scheme of what we should be worried about, people dressed up as clowns is nowhere near the top of the list.
I’ll explain, but first some background.
The phenomenon started in August in South Carolina when reports surfaced of clowns trying lure kids into the woods.
Fast forward to today and police agencies across the nation are now being forced to respond to, or at least deal with calls from people who have either spotted someone dressed as a clown, or saw a threatening post on social media from an account associated with a clown.
There have now been creepy clown sightings in roughly 20 states, including Washington.
To be clear, there have been serious cases.
In Texas, a woman reported being attacked by a man dressed as a clown. And, in Pennsylvania an alleged murder is tied to a man who was wearing a clown mask.
In recent days, there have even been clown sightings in the Inland Northwest.
A spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff Office told me that deputies have received three calls about creepy clowns. Of those, only one was from a caller who actually reported seeing someone dressed as a clown. The other two reports a surrounded perceived threats on social media, officials said.
Tuesday, the Pullman Police Department posted a message on their Facebook page, telling citizens to be aware or their surroundings in light of the clown phenomenon.
But, in that same post Pullman Police pointed out something important.
Dressing up in a clown costume is not illegal.
That last point is why the Spokane County sheriff’s deputy I spoke with declined to do an on-camera interview about the issue today.
He did not want to feed into the bizarre trend. Nor did he want to cause any alarm that could lead to people being harmed simply for dressing up like a clown.
Finally, he left me with a statistic that really puts the creepy-clown issue into perspective.
So far this year, he said, people in Spokane County have contacted authorities more than 371,000 times to report crimes, call in a tip, or pass a long a concern. Only three of those calls have been about clowns.
There are a lot of things worth worrying about.
The numbers show, people dressed as clowns is not one of them.