Heightened State of Alert

What is Heightened State of Alert?

"It is a mindset that leads you to notice unusual or suspicious behavior/circumstances and reporting your observations to authorities in a logical, rational and timely manner." 

It is not intended to induce fear and panic.

It is designed to have people go about their normal business while particularly attentive to their surroundings.

Be sure that normal security procedures are carefully followed.

Physical Security is Everyone's Responsibility!

What Constitutes a "Suspicious Package"?

Some typical characteristics Postal Inspectors have detected over the years, which ought to trigger suspicion, include parcels that may:

  • Be unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.
  • Be addressed to someone no longer with your organization or otherwise outdated (e.g., improper title).
  • Bear no return address, or one that can't be verified as legitimate
  • Be of unusual weight, given its size, or be lopsided.
  • Be marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential."
  • Exhibit protruding wires, strange odors or stains.
  • Exhibit a city or state in the postmark that doesn't match the return address.

What should I do if I've received a Suspicious Parcel in the Mail?


  • Do not try to open the parcel. 
  • They are usually designed to withstand handling while in the mail, and to explode when opened or when an item is removed.
  • Isolate the parcel.
  • Evacuate the immediate area.
  • Call the University Police Department at (715)394-8114 or 9-1-1 to report that you've received a parcel in the mail that may be a bomb or contain suspicious materials.

Some helpful links:

Use of Cornstarch in Printing Process Prompted False Anthrax Reports

Numerous anthrax reports to law enforcement agencies across the country have focused on a fine powdery substance found on magazines and other paper products shipped through the mail. 

Recipients should be aware that a common practice in the publishing industry involves applying a light coating of cornstarch to the cover and pages of glossy magazines and other printed materials.  This process prevents the pages of these products from adhering to each other during shipping.  The fine white or light brown powder produced during this process, called printers' spray powder, is not toxic and poses no health risk.

This process is most closely associated with "high-gloss" magazines, but printers' spray powder may also be used on other printed products.  For example, an officer with the sacred heart league {SHL}, a catholic nonprofit missionary organization based in Mississippi, has advised the FBI that his Organization routinely send out inspirational booklets to its members.  A recent shipment contained a number of booklets coated with the cornstarch-based powder.  Given the recent media coverage of anthrax incidents, a number of SHL members became alarmed by the powder coating and have contacted local law enforcement agencies.

Building and Office Security


  • Don't prop open or compromise building/residence hall entrance doors/windows.  Rectify these situations when you observe them.
  • Account for and secure keys, don't leave them unattended or give to unauthorized persons.  Report lost keys to building manager/department head.
  • Account for and secure all sensitive material/information when not able to attend to it.
  • Account for and secure sensitive deliveries in a timely manner. 
  • Secure all areas when not attended.
  • Be aware of unfamiliar persons in or visitors to your office/lab etc…
  • Protect access codes, combinations and cards, change codes regularly.  Report compromised codes to the person in charge of area. 
  • Be Prepared:  Take time out to familiarize yourself with building evacuation plans/routes.
  • Report suspicious tampering with physical security (doors, locks etc…)
  • Talk with co-workers; know what is out-of-place (unclaimed items etc.)
  • Ensure staff who work after-hours have proper after-hours authorization.

Suspicious Behavior/Circumstances

Be aware of and report:

  • People in buildings or areas who do not appear to be conducting legitimate business (loitering).
  • Persons monitoring areas, buildings or entrances.
  • Unauthorized personnel in restricted, sensitive or private areas.
  • Persons who appear to have no need for it, requesting research information
  • Persons wearing clothing not consistent with the weather conditions at mass population events (bulky coat in warm weather etc.)
  • Persons abandoning parcels or other items in unusual locations, high traffic areas (pedestrian/vehicle).
  • Persons attempting access to utility locations (water, electrical, petroleum, telecommunications, information systems)
  • People taking pictures or videos or seeking diagrams of areas that might seem to be possible targets of terroristic activities. 
  • Multiple persons who appear to be working in unison, committing the above.


Be alert to:

  • Abandoned Vehicles
  • Vehicles Parked Near Buildings/Public and Common Areas
  • Unexpected/Unfamiliar Delivery Trucks
  • Unfamiliar Vehicles Parked For Long Periods
  • Persons in Vehicles "Casing" Buildings/Areas
  • Vehicles Operating in Closed Areas
  • Vehicles Containing Unusual/Suspicious Parcels or Material
  • Vehicles Arriving and Being Left Behind at Odd Hours
  • Substances Leaking or Spilling from Vehicles


In light of prior incidents of bioterrorism in the United States, UW-Superior University Police Department has defined some reasonable precautions for the university community related to suspicious letters or packages.

It is important to note that there have NOT been any incidents of anthrax (or any other bioterrorism agent) contained in letters or packages on our campus; however, community members should take precautions for their safety.

University Police Department is committed to ensure that reasonable safety procedures are in place and that community concerns are being appropriately addressed.

What Should You Do With a Suspicious Letter or Package?

  • Immediately call (715)394-8114 to report the incident to University Police Department. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are unsure if a letter/package is suspicious. The officer will make a threat assessment with your assistance.
  • Don't handle or open the letter or package.
  • Don't shake, smell or taste any substance on or within the parcel or letter.
  • Isolate the letter. If you have already touched it, place it inside a plastic bag and seal it. If no bag is available, cover the letter with a wastebasket, towel, paper or other item.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If a substance has spilled from the letter onto a desk or other area, cover the material with a wastebasket, towel, paper or other item.
  • Leave and secure the room/area where the letter or parcel is located.
  • Keep others out of the area until the arrival of the University Police Department.
  • Assist as directed. This may include providing a list of all persons who may have come in contact with the suspicious parcel.

What Constitutes a Suspicious Letter or Package?

Some characteristics of suspicious letters and packages include the following:

  • Powdery substance on the outside or inside
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Title, but no name
  • Addressed to someone no longer with your organization, or otherwise outdated
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Oily stains, discoloration or odor
  • No return address or one that cannot be verified as legitimate.
  • Excessive weight
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • Protruding wires or aluminum foil
  • Excessive security material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Visual distractions
  • Ticking sound
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential"
  • Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address
  • Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you

What About Hoaxes or False Threats?

Individuals engaged in perpetrating threats (false or otherwise) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Restitution for the cost of police and other emergency services involved will be vigorously pursued as well.

Anyone with information about individuals engaged in these or other terrorist activities is urged to contact the University Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies.