Police: 'Suspicious device' at Polk courthouse was benign

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A security guard spotted what appeared to be a device, with wires coming out of it, outside the Polk County Courthouse building Thursday night. 

Officers evacuated the building around 7 p.m., as members of the news media waited across the street for the release of former Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn, who faces charges related to the shooting death of another man.

Bartow Deputy Chief of Police Bryan Dorman said the device was found on the east side of the courthouse, outside a doorway. Dorman said the device appeared to have wires connected to three containers.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were on the scene. Three officers could be seen on one side of the building, walking a K9 along the building's perimeter. 

After inspecting the device, officers determined it was benign. They said it appeared to be parts of a broken side view vehicle mirror.

Bartow police said officers were acting out of an abundance of caution, based on news coverage of devices being sent in the mail, across the country.

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After the device was found, photographers and reporters were ordered to move beyond the potential "blast zone" while officers swept the premises, which is across the street from the Polk County Jail, where former commissioner Michael Dunn was in the process of bonding out of jail.

There was no indication the device, later found to be trash, was related to the release of Michael Dunn, but officers said the investigation of the courthouse did put Dunn's release on hold. Dunn was released around 9:30 Thursday.