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Publisher / Editor:
Paul Hayden

The Mail Must Get Through, Even When Under Attack

April 1, 2024

Most of us know the motto, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

The United States Post Office was founded and established by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1775, at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Its first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin, the elder statesman of the Founding Fathers. It became a cabinet level department in 1872. In 1970 it was transformed by the Postal Reorganization Act into the US Postal Service (USPS), by President Richard Nixon.

The USPS over time, especially in post-modern America, has seen hard times. Issues with operating losses, $5.6 billion in 2016, and a decrease in first-class mail volume, from 104 billion pieces in 2001 to 54 billion in 2020, only add to its dilemma. Emailing and text messaging in the computer age and internet service are modern means of communication that have added to the decrease. There are also worker complaints of poor working conditions and low wages. And now to add to its burden, the USPS is experiencing another major problem that has befallen the storied agency. 

The US Postal Service has been plagued with letter carrier robberies. Although I try to stay on top of issues, social, political, domestic, and international, I was not aware of this particular criminal activity that is a federal offense. This outbreak of robberies has demanded the need for the USPS’ “Project Safe Delivery” (PSD) that was launched last year to combat the problem.

According to the USPS, there has been a “doubling down” on assaults on carriers, but they still continue to surge. There have been hundreds of arrests, and robberies did slow down last year but have again started to increase. Also, there has been a doubling of the number of carriers that have been injured. The robber’s main target, aside from the carrier, is the “arrow Key,” which allows access to mailboxes.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress to replace tens of thousands of mailbox keys, increase prosecutions, and review sentencing guidelines. Postal leadership has been deficient in taking more aggressive action and addressing the problem, according to Tijuana Abbott, a Houston mail carrier who went on to say “We’re like sitting ducks out there, enough is enough.”

According to the US Postal Inspection Service, in 2023 postal carrier robberies numbered 643, a 30% increase over the previous year, and the number of carrier injuries amounted to 61, many of these at gunpoint. In May of 2022 with the introduction of Project Safe Delivery (PSD) there have been over 1200 arrests for mail theft and postal carrier assaults. 

Also under Project Safe Delivery, the Postal Inspection Service conducted intense law enforcement in troubled high-crime areas like Chicago, San Francisco, and multiple areas across Ohio. This included the installation of over 10,000 high-security blue boxes in high crime areas, and 30,000 electronic locks on mail receptacles.

The efforts of the USPS have seen positive results. There has been a 19% decrease in robberies over the past five months and a 73% increase in arrests of those engaged in robberies or attack of letter carriers. In a statement, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy stated “We have been unrelenting in our pursuit of criminals who target postal employees and the US mail."

As you can see, the United States Postal Service has seen hard times. But, I still believe it is a vital agency, and necessary means of America’s communication system. Yes, many businesses and individuals today rely on handling their exchange of information over the Internet. I know that method will save you the expense of having to purchase packaging and postage. But consider this, like the postal service, there is also the threat of some cyber-thief stealing from you. As for me, I still prefer the old tried and true method.

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