U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Thursday announced he sent the United States Postal Service (USPS) the second of two letters asking for stronger measures against postal robberies.
Brown originally wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Inspector General Whitcomb Hull a month ago asking them to redeploy Postal Police Officers to patrol along mail-carrier routes and at USPS collection sites. He said he received no response and therefore wrote to the USPS Board of Governors this week urging them to reinstitute the patrols.
According to the original letter, acts of violence against postal employees reportedly increased by over 7,000 over the course of a year.
The senator noted that armed robberies of mail carriers occurred in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Norwood, College Hill, Covington, Madeira, Groveport, Beachwood, and Trotwood throughout the last year. He cited the work of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia State University to suggest that these incidents appear to have resulted from an “organized criminal effort.”
Residents of Hamilton County alone have reportedly lost over $2 million as a result of the more than 130 thefts that occurred in that jurisdiction from winter through early autumn of 2022.
Brown also cited a USPS memorandum observing a fourfold spike in postal robberies since 2019. He wrote that perpetrators seek out mail carriers for their “universal arrow keys,” devices enabling the unlocking of multiple collection receptacles. The thieves then typically sell the mailbox contents online.
Much of the blame for the increase in postal thefts, Brown posited, owes to a 2020 decision by the USPS’s Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) to reinterpret the Postal Police’s scope of authority. The directive restricted the police force only to protecting federal USPS buildings rather than the mail carriers and their cargo as well.
“This decision is making mail carriers and the communities they serve less safe, and must be reversed,” Brown wrote to DeJoy and Hull.
The senator mentioned that members of the federal police agency, created in 1970, were initially called “Post Office Police” officers, but the name was changed to “Postal Police” in 1981 to reflect their “responsib[ility] for protecting people and property.” In December 2021, the National Association of Postal Supervisors urged USPS to rescind the reinterpretation of the police force’s authority so officers could resume field patrols.
“Postal robberies and mail theft are federal crimes, and federal police officers should patrol postal carrier routes,” Brown concluded. “That responsibility should not be pushed onto overwhelmed local law enforcement personnel. It is imperative that the USPS reverse its wrongheaded decision and immediately restore the patrolling functions of the Postal Police Officers.”
Brown asked DeJoy and the board of governors to respond to his request within 30 days.
The USPS press office did not return a request for comment.
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