Massive shrinkage of USPS postal police force prompts hearing in Philadelphia
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
A hearing on mail delivery problems in Philadelphia turned into a drumbeat against the United States Postal Service’s headquarters for allowing the agency’s uniformed postal police force of 2,700 officers to shrink to about 350.
That was the complaint Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officers Association, lodged at the Sept. 7 field hearing held by House Subcommittee on Government Operations.
As other witnesses testified that mail-related crimes were rising, Albergo complained that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Gary Barksdale, chief postal inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, had stripped postal police of their powers and had gutted the uniformed force.
It was a policy of “defunding the police” Albergo said, adding he could not explain why the uniformed force called the Postal Police Officers had been decimated and restricted to protecting postal property.
But he maintained that DeJoy and Barksdale acted “despite the obvious success of postal police patrols” to protect letter carriers on their routes.
The action began on Aug. 25, 2020, during a pay dispute and took the form of a Postal Inspection Service directive that restricts the roles played by the uniformed officers, Albergo said.
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the subcommittee, promised to pursue the issue, saying the new policy “puts postal service workers at risk.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said she has introduced legislation that would allow the postal police to resume its previous roles of protecting mail on and off of postal properties.
Albergo had cited patrols by the uniformed officers on mail routes with high crime rates with unquestioned success.
He said the Postal Inspection Service has a separate force of officers whose mission is to investigate postal crimes.
The aim of the Postal Police Officers is to prevent mail crimes by being a visible presence both at postal locations and in communities, Albergo said.
Asked to comment, a Postal Service spokeswoman cited the remarks of Gary Vaccarella, district postal manager for Delaware and Pennsylvania, who told the hearing, “The Inspection Service is faithfully executing their mission to protect the nation’s mail.”
The Postal Inspection Service issued a statement Sept. 8 rejecting the charges that it had limited the duties of the uniformed postal police force and reduced the size of the force.
It said the complement of police officers “has remained unchanged for the last 10 years” and that “by federal statute” the agency’s police officers are restricted to facilities “owned, occupied or controlled by” the USPS.
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