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Sugar Mailed to Bratton's Office Sparks White Powder Scare at Police HQ

By Murray Weiss | June 18, 2014 2:09pm
 NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton orders massive shakeup of department with 100 transfers of managers.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton orders massive shakeup of department with 100 transfers of managers.
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MANHATTAN — NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's office was locked down for an hour Tuesday after an envelope containing sugar was delivered to his office — setting off a white powder scare, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The sugar was sealed inside an envelope that was folded inside another envelope and had been mailed by a Queens woman who believed her roommate spiked her sugar bowl, sources said. She mailed it to Bratton so the NYPD could analyze it to see if the sugar contained any hazardous substances.

The harmless powder sparked a lockdown inside the commissioner's 14th floor office at 2 p.m., sealing off the office and quarantining all employees inside for an hour, sources said.

It was not immediately clear if Bratton was in his office at the time.

“Locking off the 14th floor is completely unheard of,” a source observed.

Specially-trained NYPD officers tested the white powder and determined it was household sugar, prompting the department's lab techs and hazardous material officers to give those inside the quarantine the all-clear.

A department spokesman explained that all mail and packages earmarked for the commissioner are screened at an off-site facility and run through detectors that catch hazardous materials. No alarms were raised by the sugar. 

“No harm, no foul,” one source said, adding that no immediate changes to the security procedures are in the works following the incident.

But an expert on hazardous materials told "On The Inside" that “perhaps the protocol will have to be made more cautious and even tighter.”

"Next to the mayor, there is no one in government who receives more threats than the police commissioner,” he said.

Investigators met with the Queens woman who mailed the sugar and determined she was not a threat to Bratton, and will not face charges, sources said. The woman's name was not released.

A year ago, letters containing deadly ricin were sent to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his gun control lobbying office in Washington threatening him for his advocacy for tighter firearm regulations.  Another Ricin-laced letter was sent to President Obama at the White House.

“On The Inside” reported exclusively the NYPD and other city agencies ignored their own bioterrorism protocols while investigating the Bloomberg letters here and didn't realize for days that it was laced with the potentially deadly substance.

The NYPD also nearly destroyed the sample trying to lift fingerprints and DNA from it rather sending it to the Department of Health, as required, for testing. After ricin showed up in Washington, the NYPD finally handed over the toxic material.

A Louisiana woman was eventually arrested for sending the Ricin in an attempt to frame her estranged husband as the assailant.