Frequently Asked Questions

“Quick Facts for Responding to Anthrax and other Biological Threats”

The following information was taken from several sources, including Mississippi Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Anthrax Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Domestic Preparedness, and Template Anthrax Threat Advisory

If you see or receive a suspicious package, letter, or note: DON’T PANIC.

Do not disturb the package. Call UPD at 6-4986 or 911. Be prepared to provide the location of the package, a description, and your location and contact numbers.

- DO NOT open the item
- DO NOT shake or empty the contents of any suspicious envelope or package.
- Place in clear plastic zipper storage bag to prevent possible leakage of contents.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Notify your supervisor.
- Follow further instructions given to you by UPD.

If you receive AND OPEN a package, letter, or note threatening anthrax contamination, or if a suspicious substance is present: DON’T PANIC.

Call UPD at 6-4986 or 911. Be prepared to provide the location of the package, a description, and your location and contact numbers.

- Set it down gently at the location where you first opened it.
- Do not clean up the area. Keep others from entering the room or area.
- Turn off any fans in the area.
- If in a room, close the window(s) and door(s). Leave the room or area and go to an area that will minimize your contact with others.
- Wash hands with soap and water if possible.

- If material is on clothing, don’t brush off vigorously.
- Notify your supervisor, who should instruct people not to enter or exit the area.
- Make a list of all people who had actual contact with the suspicious substance or were in the room or area.
- Follow further instructions given to you by UPD.

What you should NOT do:

- Do not pass the letter or suspicious package to others to inspect.
- Do not transport contents to a hospital, emergency room, or the clinic.
- Do not disturb any contents in the letter or package. Handling the letter or package can spread the substance and increase the chances of it getting into the air.
- DO NOT ignore the threat; it must be treated as real until properly evaluated.

Screening mail for suspicious letters or packages:

A concern of many is the receipt of a letter or package containing anthrax spores or other biological agents. Many biological threats targeting individuals or departments can frequently be controlled by screening of materials and by following the procedures listed below. Responding public safety agencies have plans in place to deal with these types of threats. Following the procedures below will activate those plans and promote the highest level of safety while minimizing the disruption associated with these incidents.

The University of Southern Mississippi Post Office is charged with the initial monitoring responsibilities for suspicious letters and packages in accordance with guidelines from the U.S. Postal Service. Many of the letters and packages arriving on campus have previously gone through one or more screening processes before arriving on campus. However, in the event that a letter or package is obtained by some means other than the university mail system, the following are common features of threatening letters or packages:

- no return address
- handwritten or poorly typed address
- misspelling of common words
- restrictive markings such as “Confidential” or “Personal”
- excessive weight, or feel of a powdery or foreign substance

If a letter or package exhibits any of these warning clues, DO NOT OPEN IT. No one is at risk provided there is nothing leaking from the package. Call the University Police Department at 6-4986 or 911 to report the item and relate that the envelope has not been opened and there is no substance leaking out. Follow the instructions of law enforcement personnel.

Note: A threat involving weapons of mass destruction (biological, chemical, or nuclear agents) is a FEDERAL offense.

If you have questions or need more information,
contact the University Police Department at 6-4986.

Citizen Complaint Procedure

The University Police Department is committed to handling citizen complaints in a fair and impartial manner. The complaint investigation process is designed to serve our citizens and employees in a fair and impartial manner, while protecting the rights of everyone involved.

Filing a complaint against an officer has no bearing on any criminal charges that may have been filed against the complainant. If criminal charges have been filed and the complainant fails to appear in court, then he or she may be found guilty in absentia.

Complaint forms are available at the University Police Department. If you wish to be contacted about your complaint, you must include the name, address and telephone number of the complainant and the date and time (if known) of the incident and return promptly. It must also include a detailed explanation of the complaint and signature of the complainant.

At any time during the investigation, the complainant should feel free to contact the investigating officer at 601-266-4986. The director or his designee will notify the complainant as to the disposition of the complaint when a final determination has been made.

The University Police Department will accept anonymous complaints. These complaints will be investigated where sufficient information is available to validate the complaint.