Wednesday, October 4, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Postmaster Falsely Tells Congress He Can’t Deploy Cops to Stop Mail Theft

'Can you imagine a law enforcement agency that doesn’t want their uniformed law enforcement officers to enforce the law? Actually, in this day and age, you probably can imagine it...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told Congress earlier this month that he doesn’t have the statutory authority to deploy postal police officers to protect letter carriers, collection boxes and mail vehicles—telling lawmakers that the officers are only allowed to work at post offices and other Postal Service property.

“I don’t have authority to patrol the streets,” DeJoy said at a May 17 House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing.

However, this is false, according to Postal Police Officers Association President Frank Albergo, as well as records reviewed by Headline USA.

Albergo told Headline USA that the postal police officers, or PPOs, had the ability to protect mail routes until August 2020, when the Postal Service ordered them to confine their activities to Postal Service property. The Postal Police Officers Association has been suing the Postal Service over this issue ever since then.

Albergo believes that the USPS is restricting officers as a collective bargaining tactic to drive down their pay—by treating them as security guards, rather than full police.

The move to restrict PPOs also comes as the Postal Service devotes more resources to U.S. Postal Inspection Service to monitor mail and conduct online surveillance. USPIS Postal Inspectors are distinct from PPOs, with the former assisting other agencies such as the FBI in their investigations, and the latter largely being devoted to preventing street crime.

In any event, what DeJoy told Congress earlier this month is blatantly false, Albergo said.

“For nearly 50 years, PPOs have protected letter carriers and mail-in-transit. In fact, from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2018, PPOs conducted over 100,000 off-property patrols to protect employees and the mail,” he told Headline USA.

Albergo also said DeJoy misled Congress when he said that he’d need about 100 times more PPOs than his current roster of fewer than 600.

Albergo said about 700 PPOs can significantly curtail mail theft if strategically deployed.

“The Postal Service must think in terms of 700 federal police officers in 20 specific geographic locations—not 700 officers spread out across America.  PPOs obviously cannot police over 200,000 letter carrier routes. But is the Postal Service saying that all 200,000 letter carrier routes are unsafe?” he said.

“Of course not. There are certain zip codes and delivery routes that are frequently targeted by criminals—most of which are in the very locations where PPO workforces are present.”

Albergo and his union might be back on the streets soon. The Postal Police Officers Association recently won an arbitration decision over the issue, and filed a lawsuit in March to compel the Postal Service to put officers back on the streets.

But meanwhile, mail theft and mail-related crime continues to plague the country.

In 2022, 412 USPS letter carriers were robbed on the job, according to a Postal Service press release from earlier this month. Additionally, the agency reported an increase in high volume mail theft incidents from mail receptacles: 38,500 2022 and more than 25,000 in the first half of fiscal year 2023.

“With 305 incidents reported in the first half of FY23, these incidents are increasingly more prevalent,” the Postal Service admitted.

Albergo noted the bitter irony that the Postal Service is attempting to become a quasi-NSA—monitoring Black Lives Matters protestors, J6ers and other political activists—at the expense of keeping letter carriers safe.

“According to the Inspection Service, it has the power to conduct surveillance on every piece of mail but does not have the power to deploy uniformed postal police officers to protect the mail and postal workers,” he said.

“Can you imagine a law enforcement agency that doesn’t want their uniformed law enforcement officers to enforce the law? Actually, in this day and age, you probably can imagine it.”

The Postal Service has declined to comment on the PPO issue, citing the pending litigation.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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