COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a nationwide problem: Mail carriers robbed at gunpoint by thieves looking to steal the key that opens the blue collection boxes.
The crooks are looking to steal your money or sell it on the dark web.
The United States Postal Inspection Office has its own police force that is trained to protect mail carriers, but according to the president of the National Postal Police Officers Association those officers are being sidelined is calling for change:
“The postal service has a police force and they're refusing to use it. It's nuts,” said Frank Albergo, the president of the Postal Police Officers Association. He contacted 10TV after reading our previous reporting on mail carrier robberies.
10TV contacted USPS for comment.
“Regarding the 'benching of uniformed officers' the Postal Police Officer (PPO) jurisdiction has not changed. Clarification concerning the jurisdiction of Postal Police Officers (PPOs) was received in 2017 and messaged out to PPOs and PPO management through 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the Postal Inspection Service issued a memorandum to management affirming prior guidance stating Postal Police federal law enforcement jurisdiction is limited to real property owned, operated, or controlled by the U.S. Postal Service. The complement for Postal Police Officers has remained unchanged in the last 10 years.”
There have been six mail carrier robberies in the Columbus area since November. Recently, a mail carrier was robbed Wednesday in Akron and Thursday in Cincinnati. It’s happening across the country.
According to a report, the Postal Inspection Service received a 161% increase in mail theft complaints from March 2020 through February 2021.
"Despite this increase, the number of complaints resulting in a case did not change significantly compared to the prior 12 months. Specifically, from March 2020 through February 2021, the Postal Inspection Service opened 1,090 mail theft cases, representing 0.4 percent of the total complaints received. From March 2019 through February 2020, the Postal Inspection Service opened 1,139 mail theft cases, representing 0.9 percent of the total complaints received," the report says.
“Quite frankly, this stubborn refusal to deploy postal police officers borderlines on pathological what are they doing?,” Albergo said.
He’s calling out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to put postal police officers on the street.
“Postmaster Dejoy for whatever reason is basically sitting on his hands and is refusing to deploy police officers,” Albergo said.
Post Office police officers have been around since the 1970s. Albergo said the ranks have shrunk from a high of 2,700 to just over 400 today.
The post office explained why the numbers are down.
“Attrition, mainly due to retirement eligibility combined with the inability to operate the training academy during the COVD-19 pandemic, made it difficult to keep Postal Police Officers at their authorized complement. The Postal Inspection Service restarted Postal Police Officer Basic Training courses in August 2022 to fill the empty positions. We had 432 Postal Police Officers at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021.”
Albergo says the nationwide crime spree is not only hurting recruitment and retention of mail carriers, but believes it’s bigger than that.
“If the public trust in the mail is destroyed then what? Are we going to call into question the integrity of an election because the mail isn't safe?,” he says.
The USPS tells 10TV, “While the narrative the Postal Police Officer union President discusses may seem compelling, it is inaccurate and paints a false picture of the work every Postal employee does to keep the U.S. Mail safe. The Postal Inspection Service is committed to the effort to protect Postal employees and prevent mail theft. From investigating, to working with prosecutors and other law enforcement, we will not rest until we can put an end to crime impacting the U.S. Mail.”