Package in mailbox investigated

Unmarked package contained personal care items

By:Roger Alvarado
   For the second time in three weeks a suspicious package prompted the closing of township streets and arrival of the New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad before officials determined the contents were harmless.
   At about 11 a.m. Friday, a U.S. Postal Service employee emptying out a mailbox on New Amwell Road near Williamsburg Drive, reportedly found a small vinyl bag inside with no identification on it, according to township police.
   According to Lt. Paul Kaminsky, the postal worker flagged down a police officer, who was driving by at the time, to examine the package.
   Police said there was a white residue on the bag’s exterior and that the bag had weight to it. The New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad and the Somerset County Hazardous Materials Response Team were called to investigate and later determined the bag was harmless.
   During the investigation, the area around the mailbox was secured and New Amwell Road, between Auten Road and Taurus Drive, was closed to all traffic for approximately one hour.
   Police said the bag contained several unidentified personal care items, none of which carried any sort of threat level.
   It is not yet known why the bag was left inside the mailbox and the incident remains under investigation, Lt. Kaminsky said.
   Just three weeks ago on Dec. 20, a suspicious package prompted the closing of the township post office and part of Amwell Road for over an hour until officials determined the box was harmless and accidentally left behind by a customer.
   According to Lt. Kaminsky, since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the fatal anthrax-tainted mail cases, anything that could be potentially hazardous to both postal employees and the general public now routinely requires that extreme measures be undertaken until there is no longer any conceivable threat.
   "A package with no name or address and a white powdery substance on it probably wouldn’t have been looked at so suspiciously several years ago," he said. "But now our level of concern has risen greatly. That’s why we are constantly developing our training further in order to make our officers more safety conscious with regard to these type of situations."
   Other agencies that were called to the scene as a precaution were the Hillsborough Rescue Squad, Hillsborough Fire Co. Unit 37 and U.S. Postal authorities. were called to the scene as precautionary measures.