INDIANAPOLIS – The Postal Police Officer’s Association is asking why the United States Postal Service has limited law enforcement to postal property, given what the president described as a “postal crime wave.” 

CBS4 obtained records showing hundreds of mail carriers have been attacked and robbed nationwide since 2020. An audit from the Inspector General also showed mail theft complaints increased 161% between March 2020 and February 2021. 

“What are they doing?” asked Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officer’s Association. “The Postal Service has a uniformed police force. They should use it, and they should be forced to explain why they aren’t using it!” 

Postal police officers are armed law enforcement. At one time, Albergo said they were tasked with patrolling metropolitan areas to prevent and respond to postal crime.  

“We were equipped with intelligence-led policing so we could use crime mapping to find which carriers were in the areas that mail theft was most prevalent,” he explained. “We would patrol a given zip code and show a police presence.” 

Each officer was armed with a ballistic helmet, a ballistic shield and a shotgun. 

“We were a full-operating police force,” Albergo told CBS4. 

According to Albergo, there used to be about 2,700 postal police officers nationwide. In 2020, though, the USPS issued the following memorandum: 

“Postal Police Officers (PPOs) may exercise certain law enforcement authority (i.e., enforce certain Federal laws and regulations, carry firearms, and make arrests for specified offenses) on real property owned, occupied or otherwise controlled by the Postal Service; or in the immediate areas outside postal owned real property (sidewalks and walkways) to the extent necessary to protect the property and people on postal owned real property. PPOs may not exercise this law enforcement authority in contexts unrelated to Postal Service premises. 

Effective immediately any off property utilization of PPOs required prior approval of the DCI over the Division with concurrence of the DCI over the Security Group. 

DCI approval is not required for PPOs to travel off premises in order to get to a duty assignment or incident at another Postal Service location. However, during this travel they are not to be placed in situations in which it would be reasonably likely that they would be compelled to exercise law enforcement activity (e.g., carrier protection patrols, community policing patrols and fishing patrols).” 

USPS

Albergo said that memorandum forced postal police officers off the streets. 

Records now show there were about 463 PPOs employed nationwide. 

“We no longer have any policing power off postal property,” he said. “So, if a postal police officer sees a letter carrier being brutally attacked, the postal police officer is instructed to drive away. They have no policing power. You cannot get involved. This is actual postal policy!” 

Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officer’s Association

CBS4 asked whether Indianapolis ever had postal police officers. James Bjork, the former Postal Police Officer’s Association president, said the last time Indy had any postal law enforcement was in the 1980s. A records request confirmed there are no postal police officers working anywhere in Indiana, despite an increase in mail theft complaints and violence on mail carriers statewide. 

“Given the amount of crime, there is no reason we couldn’t be deployed there,” Bjork said.  

In October 2021, Chicago Executive Postmaster Eddie C. Morgan Jr. testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations. He told lawmakers mounting crime had contributed to performance issues. He mentioned two shootings and other assaults on mail carriers, claiming they had “understandably caused great concern among employees.” Officials couldn’t say whether an increased amount of violence on mail carriers had led to difficulty recruitment and retention of employees. 

The president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors spoke with CBS4 as well. He, too, questioned the USPS’ decision to sideline postal police officers. 

“We have some concerns over it,” Ivan Butts said. “I feel if there is a presence, if someone knows a patrol car will come by or a unit may walk through that post office at any given time, that does serve as a deterrent, and it does help support the resources that we have out there in the street.” 

In December, NAPS sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting the “immediate reauthorization of the full presence of postal police officers back on the streets in cities across America in support of United States Postal Service field operations.” The letter mentioned the increase in violent crime and mail theft.  

“We cannot allow these kinds of assaults upon carriers and other postal employees to continue,” NAPS wrote. “Greater protection of postal employees and facilities needs to occur, involving coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. While the Postal Service cannot alone reduce crime, the Postal Inspection Service needs to use its resources more smartly, including optimization of its Postal Police Officer (PPO) workforce. Greater PPO surveillance and patrols of high-risk neighborhoods, especially along the routes that carriers cover, is necessary.” 

NAPS

CBS4 asked the USPS why it started limiting postal police officers. It refused to comment and instead referred our investigative team to the Postal Inspection Service. A spokesperson emailed the following: 

The safety and well-being of USPS employees is a top priority for the Postal Inspection Service. Postal Inspectors respond to all reports of threats, assaults, and robberies. Credible assaults and threats are further investigated, and a case initiated.”