Mail theft has been on the rise. More than 400 letter carriers were robbed in the 2022 fiscal year, and more than 300 were robbed just in the first half of the 2023 fiscal year.
The United States Postal Service has its own uniformed law enforcement agency — the Postal Police — to help combat the problem. But since 2020, those officers have been working under limited authority.
"The Postal Service decided to bench the postal police force," said Frank Albergo, the National President for the Postal Police Officers Association. "They stripped us of our jurisdictional authority and basically relegated us to protecting buildings. We no longer can protect the mail, and we no longer can protect letter carriers."
An August 2020 memo restricted Postal Police officers' jurisdiction to 'real' property, and that means USPS facilities and the immediate perimeter. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended that decision to Congress in May 2023, saying the agency doesn't have the statutory authority for mobile patrols.
"I don't have the authority to patrol the streets," DeJoy testified.
But Albergo says the Postal Police is more effective when officers can be out in the community and protecting letter carriers on their routes. So Congress is trying to get them that authority.
Sens. Dick Durbin and Susan Collins recently introduced the bipartisan Postal Police Reform Act. A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Both versions would give the Postal Police the authority to protect letter carriers on their routes.
Albergo argues those mobile patrols would help take pressure off local law enforcement.
"We're not out there to stop bank robbers. We're out there to deal with postal related street crime," he said."We were protecting letter carriers. We were responding to mail theft. We were patrolling blue collection boxes."
Groups like the National Association of Postal Supervisors and the National Association of Police Organizations support the bills that would get the Postal Police back out in the community.
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