The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) police force is complaining of hampered operations due to pandemic-related defunding amid a spike in mail theft.
Postal Police Office Association President Frank Albergo told Fox News that the USPS is to blame for pulling officers off the streets.
“Well, about a year ago, the postal service pulled postal police off the streets. We were protecting mail and the postal infrastructure. We were protecting postal workers,” he said.
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General reported 290,020 mail fraud complaints from March 2020 to February 2021 – a 160% increase. At the same time, the pandemic has strained the department’s budget, with Congress deciding to cut funds to the USPS.
According to a report in The Hill, USPS employees are also facing increased threats of assaults during the pandemic, along with attempts to steal mail. As postal service employees continue to deliver 212 billion pieces of mail to over 144 million homes from 40,000 post offices, the USPS’ response has been to cut its law enforcement operations.
Albergo claims that the USPS restricted postal police to only protecting “real property,” or property owned or leased by the USPS.
Postal inspectors, who normally handle investigations related to terrorism, international criminals, human trafficking and mail fraud, have had to replace many of the postal police’s duties.
The postal police filed a lawsuit regarding the officers’ restrictions of their constitutional duties, which went to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the USPS could indeed put officers back on the streets.
However, they have chosen not to.
“We sued the Postal Service. Federal court ruled that if the Postal Service chose to put us out on the street again to protect your mail, the Postal Service certainly could do that. But, they have chosen not to do that. And it’s inexplicable why they have done this,” Albergo said.
The U.S. Postal Service deflected with a statement that read: “Postal police officers have not been stripped of their duties as permissible under federal statute they are utilized to protect postal real property, employees and customers within the confines of said postal property. There has been no reduction in force of postal police officers, and their compensation and funding have not been impacted.”
Albergo argued that the USPS is not being “truthful,” and that postal police officers’ duties are not limited to protecting real property but other mail as well.
“In other words, the Postal Service could put PPOs, which are postal police officers, back on the street again to protect the mail. They just chose not to,” Albergo said.