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Where we foster excellence in education that challenges students of every background to develop their intellect, character, and abilities; to assist students in achieving their educational and career goals; and to be responsive to the greater community.

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Suspicious Packages

How do I know what makes a package or letter “suspicious”? And what should you do?

Sometimes a person will make a telephone or email threat prior to leaving a package, regardless of that, please contact Campus Safety at (760-483-7411) as soon as that happens (see below sections on how to respond to these types of threats). Some suspicious-looking packages are not actually weapons or look humorous because of how they are addressed or marked— but it's still important to take them seriously. Here's an example of what one might look like:

  • No return address
  • Restrictive markings, i.e. "Personal!"
  • Oily stains, discolorations, or crystallization on wrapper
  • Strange odor
  • Excessive tape
  • Envelope sealed with tape
  • Address errors
    • Misspelled words
    • Addressed to title only
    • Incorrect title
    • Badly typed or written
  • Excessive postage
  • Lopsided or uneven
  • Rigid or bulky

So, if you see one, be careful to avoid touching it and encourage others in the area to do the same. Although you might want to sniff, smell, or shake the package to see what's in it, please do not do so as it is safer to wait for us to investigate. If you can, calmly encourage others to leave the area as soon as possible and notify Campus Safety at (760) 483-7411

What if you have already opened the package?

Since it might contain dangerous powders or agents, be sure to wash your hands before touching anything else, and you don't need to clean up anything that might have spilled out. Our goal is to protect you while minimizing contamination—so you can help by staying nearby and letting us know who else was in the area when you found the package. We'll take care of the rest.

What makes a backpack, duffel bag, laptop case, etc. suspicious?

If the item is lying unattended and or it seems out of place, please contact Campus Safety. An officer will respond to determine if there is any threat, If it is determined there is no threat, the officer will take the item for safe keeping and attempt to locate the owner. If for whatever reason the officers determine there might possibly be a threat, the area will be evacuated, and local authorities will be contacted to respond and examine the item.

What if someone makes a phone threat about an explosive device or a weapon?

If you can record the live call, that would be most helpful. Otherwise, signal to nearby faculty or staff that a threat is occurring, and try to write down what the caller tells you.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Write down exactly what the caller says—if possible, ask him or her to repeat the information.
  • Try to keep the caller speaking with you by asking questions.
  • For instance, try asking where the device or the person is. Calmly let the caller know that many people could be harmed; it's possible that the person is calling because he or she doesn't want to follow through with this threat.
  • As you listen, do you notice any background noises like other voices, cars, freeways, or music? Is there anything distinct about the caller's voice or the way the person speaks? Is his or her tone calm or angry?
  • Even if the caller hangs up, keep your end of the call active or press “hold.” Cell phones might automatically disconnect, and that's okay, just take note of when the call ended and how long it lasted.

We appreciate you taking the time to read this and prepare yourself for this type of threat. Be sure to call Campus Safety at (760) 483-7411 to share your notes and observations with us; this will help us to coordinate with the Imperial Police and Fire Department. We also understand that you will want to tell others on campus about what happened or post information on social media, but it's safest for everyone if you allow us to notify others. Our goal is to keep everyone safe and to do this we need to avoid causing panic.

What if you find an emailed threat?

Treat it as a genuine threat, even if it seems like it might be a joke, or you are not sure what the person's intent is.

These can be frightening, especially since they could be from someone on campus or across the world. Fortunately, we can help. With assistance from IVC Information Technology Services and the Imperial Police and Sheriff’s Department we can trace emails or identify server logs to see how a message was handled.

So, if you find an emailed, social media, or otherwise digital threat, just keep it accessible on your screen. Then call Campus Safety at (760) 483-7411 so we can record all the important information.

Sometimes a threat is written on paper, in a restroom, or on a wall.

These might have useful fingerprints or other evidence, so it's best to avoid touching them. Instead, immediately call Campus Safety at (760)-483-7411. Try to take note of where and when you found the threat and whether you noticed anything else unusual about the people or area nearby. While you might desire to notify other people in the area, we can handle that, so others aren't unnecessarily frightened. However, if you ever suspect that your life or others' lives are in danger, call Campus Safety at (760) 483-7411 or 911 for local police and emergency services.

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