There have been three reported sightings of individuals dressed as clowns on campus since Tuesday, Sept. 27, according to Ferris State Department of Public Safety Director Bruce Borkovich. DPS officers investigated all three reports but did not find any clowns in the area.
Borkovich attributes the reports chiefly to the Halloween season, and believes reports of clowns on campus will die off following the holiday.
“It’s Halloween season and people get a little wired up and maybe get into it a little bit too much, but there’s no danger or anything for people to be alarmed about,” Borkovich said. “I hope if people are doing this just to get a laugh, that they’ll stop and slow down to think that this might really cause some people to be fearful.”
The Halloween season tends to bring with it an increase in crimes in general, according to Borkovich.
“We’ll see a little bit of uptick in predictable things. Something as simple as smashing pumpkins or toilet papering houses or people in costumes,” Borkovich said. “Whenever someone at night sees someone in a costume, it’s upsetting to some people. People watch the horror movies and get themselves worked up so something like that can upset them.”
Borkovich has been told that local stores have had trouble keeping clown costumes in stock due to high demand.
“You have the right to dress up as a clown,” Borkovich said. “As long as no one is hurting anybody or causing any problems, they have a right to do it.”
While dressing up as a clown in public is legal, there is a delicate balance between playing dress-up and harassment.
“The mere action of someone dressing up like a clown with a mask on standing somewhere staring at people—a lot of people would think it was funny and a lot of people would be very alarmed,” Borkovich said.
While DPS answers all calls and will follow up on any report of a clown sighting by sending officers to the scene, Borkovich said, “my suspicion is that people are doing it as a prank.”
“If we get a call then we will answer it, but we sure hope that people understand that if they do this just to get attention or to create anxiety when in fact it isn’t true but they’re calling it in, then they can end up getting in trouble for filing a false police report,” Borkovich said.