The threat of anthrax has created a panic of calls to police departments across Iowa over suspicious packages. Iowa’s largest police department is no exception. Des Moines Lieutenant Kelly Willis says the department is encouraging people to use common sense.
Willis says there’s been no case thus far of a private individual being targeted, and he says people have been exposed by opening suspicious mail. Willis has some tips for what people should consider “suspicious.”
He says the mail would be addressed to “resident” or someone you do not know. Willis says anyone who thinks they may have a suspicious letter should put it in a plastic bag, and then call local authorities. He says you should not drive the letter to the police station.
He compares it to finding a meth lab, he says you wouldn’t put the lab in your car and drive it to the police station as you’d risk more exposure. Willis says most of the calls coming into his department have centered around mail with a powdery substance. He says a powdery substance is common in some types of mail.
Some forms of mass mail, like “Sports Illustrated” magazine, are shipped with powdered cornstarch so they don’t stick together. Willis says anthrax tainted letters have been very recognizable.
Willis says they aren’t trying to discourage people from calling police with a real concern, but he says people need to be educated better on what is a threat. He also says officers are in no mood for pranks involving anthrax.
Willis says his department has answered several additional calls about possible anthrax-tainted letters, but all have turned out to be false alarms.