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University police and PPD encounter ‘suspicious device’ on Joplin

Drivers on Joplin Street were detoured by uniformed officers after the 1500 block was blocked off for an explosive’s investigation. 

On Wed. March 3, the Pittsburg State University Police (UPD) became aware of a ‘suspicious device’ located on the 1500 block of Joplin Street. After discovering that the device was not actually on the campus of Pitt State, they notified the Pittsburg Police Department (PPD) of the device. Afterwards, PPD investigated the scene. They discovered the device and further contacted members of the Kansas State Highway Patrol’s Hazardous Device Unit who responded to assist with the investigation. In a press release on March 4, PPD updated the public saying that the device had been found to contain “incendiary components.” The device has now been transferred to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s Forensic Laboratories for further examination of evidence. 

“The only danger to students or members of campus would have been in the immediate area prior to our arrival,” said Stu Hite, director of the Pittsburg State University Police Department. “A safe area/diameter was established immediately upon our arrival and some tenants in and around the area were asked to leave their off-campus apartments until the situation could be safely resolved.” 

Hite also said that students and staff should not feel as if they are in active danger going forward because of this incident. 

“…These events are rare,” Hite said. “I would say that UPD and other law enforcement agencies rely on the eyes and ears of everyone in the community and in the case of our campus community, that includes faculty, students, and staff of Pittsburg State. So, if, or when, you see something suspicious or something that makes you uncomfortable, please report it as soon as possible.” 

Hite described the partnership with other local law enforcement agencies as “something to be proud of.” 

“Having spent the first 30 years of my career working for the Crawford County Sherriff’s Office, I learned the importance of having positive working relationships,” Hite said. “In fact, I even received a text from one of the administrators the day of the incident checking to see if we needed any additional resources. We have always worked exceptionally well in our corner of the state. I know from other agencies around the country that isn’t the case, but we are very fortunate as police officers to have this relationship but also as citizens we should be thankful as well. Some agencies like UPD may not be very large in numbers, but with our proven history of having these partnerships, we can increase our officers greatly just by picking up our radio or phones. It is an incredible comfort from someone in my position to know this and I’m thankful for all of our partners.” 

PPD have stated that this investigation is ongoing and that no suspects have been identified. Any person having information related to this incident or other crimes is encouraged to call the PPD at (620) 231-1700 or at the automated tip line (620 231-8477). Callers have the option to remain anonymous. 

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