Local lawmakers on high alert after ricin scares - KCTV5

Local lawmakers on high alert after ricin scares

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KANSAS AND MISSOURI (KCTV) -

Besides the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, another big story is the ricin scare around the country.

Officials said the substance that's believed to be in letters sent to President Barack Obama and to Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker is ricin. Tests are being done on another suspicious letter sent to Michigan Sen. Carl Levin's office. The staffer who found that letter is spending the night at a hospital as a precaution.

Preliminary results aren't expected until later Wednesday or Thursday.

Because of all the ricin scares, local lawmakers are on high alert. U.S. senators and representatives who work in our nation's capital also maintain local offices in cities in Kansas and Missouri.

"It's in the back of your mind, I suppose you can't let it affect your daily work," Zach Brown said.

Brown runs the Harrisonville, MO, office for Rep. Vicky Hartzler. He said most citizens send in their concerns or thoughts through emails. Typically, in one day, his office will only open five to 10 packages or handwritten letters from constituents.

But early Wednesday morning, Hartzler's local office got an email from capital police alerting them to be extra cautious opening mail and to look for any red flags of a sinister nature.

"Certainly the news today of the powdery substances, things that seem off, no return address, etc.," Brown said.

On the Kansas side, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, who is in Washington DC, spoke about the news. He said you don't want to fool around with a threat of this seriousness.

Roberts believes capital police have responded quickly and have come a long way since the 2001 anthrax attacks.

He said he has been in contact with his offices in Kansas to urge them to be on the lookout.

"There is a concern I do have and that most members have. I've been in touch with our state offices to be very careful with regards to mail that's coming to them - obviously that's a different situation," Roberts said.

Many local offices said they have procedures in place they follow when they handle mail and packages, but they couldn't talk about those details as a safety precaution to help prevent someone from using that information to their advantage.

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