Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is continuing to express concerns and push for action after a rise in robberies targeting Postal Service employees since a 2020 decision limiting officers of a federal police force that’s supposed to protect the mail delivery process and the people involved in it, and in a new letter, Brown restated his push for the relevant authorities to undo the change.
As outlined in Brown’s first letter, which was dated October 14, Postal Police Officers are now limited to only working at facilities of the Postal Service instead of along routes used by mail carriers and around Postal Service drop boxes where mail is left for collection, which contradicts the historical precedent of the law enforcement effort that traces in part back to protection for mail delivery to Union soldiers serving in the Civil War. At more recent points, naming decisions for the officers’ work reflect rather clear intentions, like when the Postal Police Officers were named “postal” officers rather than “post office” officers specifically because of their role in protecting “people and property” involved in the mail delivery process. Brown credited the decision to change where Postal Police Officers operate to the Postal Inspection Service, which is the agency under which the officers work.
“On October 14th, I wrote to Mr. DeJoy and Ms. Whitcomb Hull asking the United States Postal Service (USPS) to reinstate the patrolling duties of Postal Police Officers (PPOs) in the face of increasingly widespread, costly, and dangerous armed postal robberies and mail theft,” Brown noted in his new letter, which is addressed to both the Board of Governors overseeing the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy himself. “It is imperative that this matter be addressed as promptly as possible.” Hull is the oversight official known as an inspector general who oversees the Postal Service. The jump in crimes targeting mail carriers has been drastic. “According to an internal USPS memo, there has been a 400 percent increase in postal robberies since 2019,” Brown wrote in his earlier missive. According to other statistics cited by the Senator, Ohio is among the top locales for what he identified as postal robbery cybercrime in terms of the amount of it recorded.
Stolen checks have been sold online after Postal Service robberies. DeJoy took power at the head of the Postal Service months before the policy change was enacted at the Postal Inspection Service. Throughout his tenure, DeJoy has faced consistent criticism for issues including — perhaps most prominently — slowing rates of mail delivery in 2020 as that year’s elections in which many more Americans than normal were using mail-in voting approached. DeJoy has also faced scrutiny for plans that originally called for mostly gas-powered replacements for agency vehicles and ambitions to consolidate services provided by the agency (including mail sorting and carriers starting their routes) at fewer facilities without providing comprehensive information for workers.