Suspicious packages, bomb threats and other suspicious activities are not unusual or uncommon events on college campuses across the United States. These incidents have occurred all too frequently during demonstrations and times of civil unrest.
If for any reason a person feels uncomfortable in evaluating suspicious packages or letters, they should contact the campus police for a risk assessment. During these times of increased awareness our actions should be driven by common sense and rational thinking, not by paranoia and hysteria.
Protocol for response to possible anthrax, biohazard exposures
IUPD officers with an on-duty shift commander will conduct a risk assessment concerning the potential for exposure to biohazards, such as anthrax, prior to choosing a course of action. They will consider the credibility of the exposure and if the exposure could result in either inhalational or cutaneous anthrax. The potential that an exposure really is anthrax is higher when:
- There is a distinct threatening message accompanying the powder or substance.
- The substance is brown or sandy-brown rather than stark- white.
- A letter or package is otherwise suspicious as described on the U.S. Postal Service “Suspicious Mail Alert” poster.
The potential that an exposure really is anthrax is lower when:
- The exposure includes situations in which a white powder is found without an accompanying note.
- Someone might expect a spill of a common substance e.g. spilled sugar, creamer, talcum powder, etc.
- The substance comes in a package or letter that can be traced to the sender.