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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Officials confirmed that the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) was evacuated for over an hour on October 7, due to a "suspicious package" sent to the Sheriff.
"Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred S. Scott received today a suspicious package," reads a statement from county spokesperson Stacey Bersani.
The Sheriff's Office is headquartered at 701 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, in a building rented by the county from the Boraie real estate company.
Bystanders watched curiously from the other side of Livingston Avenue as New Brunswick police officers patrolled the area directly in front of, and on the side of, the MCSO building, where a New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad truck was parked with its back doors open.
While the investigation was taking place, police were intent on keeping people well out of the way.
But police would not say what was taking place or who was on the scene investigating and working. People watching did not seem to know a bomb squad was at work.
One officer said: “Yeah, its okay, it’ll be okay – you’ll know in a couple of minutes – go back across the street.”
Sheriff's officers are usually focused on providing security at the county's two courthouses, as well as transporting prisioners, and executing arrests on warrants. But today many officers were dealing with the logistics of evacuating their headquarters after the package arrived, and keeping people safe.
"As per protocol, the Sheriff’s Building was evacuated for one hour and 15 minutes while the package was being tested," reads the statement.
New Brunswick Middle School students walking home were not able to use the side walk in front of the MCSO as usual.
Instead the kids were escorted to the other side of the road by authorities. Although none of them stopped for more than a quick pause, they too wondered about the scene taking place across the street.
Finally, employees who were still across the street waiting, were seen walking back inside the building before 3:00 p.m.
According to the county' statement, the package was "deemed safe" by the New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad and the Sheriff’s Office resumed normal operations at 2:45 p.m.
New Brunswick Today asked a city police officer still patrolling the area behind the bomb truck what happened.
“This is actually an incident that took place on Middlesex County Sheriff department’s property so you might want to see if they’d give you a statement,” said the Sergeant, adding, “All we did was block the road here.”
Sheriff's sales scheduled for 2 p.m. were rescheduled for the following day, October 8.
An impromtu, one page-size sign was printed and taped to the inside of the main doors, now re-opened to the public: "SALES FOR Wednesday October 7, 2015 ARE CANCELLED TO OCTOBER 8, 2015 2:00PM"
As we reported, the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office currently has three suspended employees, including a dispatcher, an officer who also serves as an elected official, and a mystery employee who the agency refuses to identify.
Scott's longtime predecessor Joe Spicuzzo is currently serving a nine-year sentence in state prison for selling police jobs during his 30 years as sheriff.