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Sheriff's audience evacuated after suspicious package found

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Arpaio was appearing at rally for Kansas politician
  • Convention center evacuated after suspicious package found
  • Arpaio's original appearance at nearby university was canceled
  • FBI gives all-clear after no explosive device was found

(CNN) -- A suspicious package prompted authorities to evacuate a Kansas convention center where a controversial Arizona sheriff was speaking, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Late Tuesday, the FBI gave the all-clear.

"A suspicious package was noticed and in an over-abundance of caution we took all the precautions necessary because it was suspicious package," said spokeswoman Bridgette Patton. "It has been determined at this point that it was not an explosive device."

Overland Park Police spokesman Jim Weaver said the bomb squad removed the package and contained it, and police evacuated the parking lot to conduct a thorough sweep to look for any other suspicious items.

Weaver could not say where the package was found.

Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was to speak Tuesday night at the Ritz Charles Convention Center in support of Kansas secretary of state candidate Kris Kobach, who says he helped write Arizona's controversial legislation that requires law enforcement to ascertain the immigration status of those under investigation if the officers believe the suspects are in the country illegally.

Arpaio, 77, was originally scheduled to speak at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, but the school canceled his appearance over security concerns regarding possible protests.

The man who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" has drawn sharp criticism for his strict treatment of inmates in Maricopa County, including chain gangs. This year he has made national headlines for his tough enforcement of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration laws and for his vocal support for a controversial new immigration law that takes effect at the end of July.