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Cornstarch Sets Off HAZMAT Situation At Royal Oak Police Department

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ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – An evacuation order has been lifted at the Royal Oak Police Department after a HAZMAT team was called to investigate a powdery substance.

Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison told WWJ Newsradio 950 a suspicious white powder was found inside a letter mailed to a detective at the police department around 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“We had a couple of our detectives open an envelope this morning and when they opened the envelope, they found some white powder inside,” Ellison said. “So, they immediately got concerned, obviously, called the HAZMAT team and we evacuated the police station.”

The police department is located on Third Street, just south of 11 Mile Road and Main Street, next to City Hall. The three-story building and surrounding block were evacuated as the Royal Oak Fire Department secured the area. About 25 people were inside the building at the time, including two prisoners who were immediately secured.

“The HAZMAT team is suiting up and they’re going to go in and test the material,” Ellison said. “Based on visual appearances, it doesn’t look to be anything bad but they’re still going to check it.”

Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said preliminary investigation shows the substance is most likely cornstarch. He said their investigation now will focus on who sent the letter, which was addressed to a detective and delivered with other mail through the U.S. Postal Service.

“We don’t know what was in the envelope, so we’re going to start there,” O’Donohue said. “We’re taking this very seriously. We’ve got an excellent detective bureau and I fully anticipate us finding out who sent it. We’ll make an appropriate decision [about charges] at that time… We’ll handle it but if it’s determined to be some type of terrorist threat, the FBI will open a case also.”

Officers and fire units from Madison Heights, Southfield, Birmingham and Bloomfield Township were all on the scene. No injuries were reported.

The police office was closed to the public and all 911 calls were transferred to Madison Heights Dispatch while authorities were investigating, but everything has since returned to normal operations.

An investigation is ongoing.

 

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