Letters to Editor
Postal Police Discussion
USPS Awards Contract
for Security Guard Services-(6/24/04)
of Postal Inspection Service's Postal Police Officers-The
report presents results of an audit in response to a request by members
of Congress to review the Postal Service's decision to eliminate postal
police officers at six USPS facilities.
September 12, 2003
POSTAL SERVICE SHOULD ASSESS SECURITY
NEEDS BEFORE ELIMINATING SECURITY OFFICERS
WASHINGTON - A group of
Connecticut and Washington state lawmakers, in an ongoing exchange
with Postmaster General John Potter, are expressing discontent with
the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's decision to terminate the use
of armed security officers at six major facilities, including ones
in Hartford and Seattle, despite serious questions the lawmakers raised
regarding the decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that you did not directly respond to
our specific request that you suspend the proposed terminations until
a complete assessment is done of Postal Service security requirements,”
wrote the lawmakers in their second
letter to Postmaster General John Potter on this issue, “While
your response did provide additional documentation we requested, as
discussed briefly below, that information raises even more questions
concerning the process used by the Postal Service to justify these
The lawmakers also sent a letter to Inspector General David C. Williams
Wednesday, requesting that he conduct an audit of the Postal Service
to determine whether USPS is implementing sufficient security measures
to protect employees and customers.
In the letter to Williams, the lawmakers wrote: “We are concerned
that the decision to remove postal police from these locations is
not supported by 1997 and 2001 assessments of the security needs of
these facilities and that the USPS’ plans to substitute contract security
personnel and physical security measures for the presence of postal
police does not adequately safeguard postal employees, customers or
the assets of the USPS.”
“I am concerned that this decision could put the safety and security
of Connecticut’s mail system in jeopardy,” said Dodd. “The anthrax
attacks and the tragic loss of life of postal workers were harsh reminders
of the need to ensure the safety and preparedness of our postal facilities.
We must give these workers the tools they need to protect themselves
and prevent future attacks on our mail system.”
“After reading the Postmaster General’s response to our first letter,
I am more concerned, not less, that the decision to terminate these
positions compromises the security of postal workers and customers,”
said Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., “These hard-working officers
provide vital security to postal workers, visitors, and the mail,
and have the ability to respond immediately to any threats or other
incidents. They and their jobs are too important to be dismissed or
relocated before a fair and unbiased assessment of the facilities
they protect is finished.”
“Given the new environment that exists and the potential threats we
face, we must ensure the security of federal facilities,” said Sen.
Patty Murray, D-Wash. “Removing trained security officers from post
offices does not appear to make these sites safer.”
“At this critical time when new reports indicate there might be future
terrorist attacks on United States soil, we should not be reducing
the number of law enforcement personnel at our nation’s post offices,”
said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
"In light of the continuing terrorist threat, I find it hard to understand
why the postal service seems to be the only agency eliminating security,”
said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
"The decision to remove postal police from these locations is misguided,
and appears to have been made without regard for the security needs
of the facilities, postal employees and visitors," said Rep. John
September 9, 2003
David C. Williams
United States Postal Service
1735 N. Lynn Street
Arlington, VA 22209-2020
Dear Mr. Williams:
We are writing to ask you to review the
decision of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to eliminate the
presence of Postal Police Officers at 6 postal facilities, including
ones in Hartford, Connecticut and Seattle, Washington. Based on information
provided by USPS and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS),
we are concerned that the decision to remove postal police from these
locations is not supported by 1997 and 2001 assessments of the security
needs of these facilities and that the USPS’ plans to substitute contract
security personnel and physical security measures for the presence
of postal police does not adequately safeguard postal employees, customers
or the assets of the USPS. Therefore, we request that you conduct
an audit of USPS security needs at postal facilities to determine
what security measures are required and whether USPS is implementing
a plan that will meet those needs.
has been provided to us by the USPS and the USPIS in response to our
inquiries into the basis on which the decision was made to eliminate
postal police at these locations. This documentation raises concerns
about the information on which USPS and USPIS relied to move forward
with the proposed postal police terminations. For example, these materials
include information that appears to support the continued presence
of postal police at these facilities, particularly those like Hartford
which are located in high crime neighborhoods.
In addition, this documentation indicates
that there may be weaknesses in the USPS plan to utilize physical
security measures, such as electronic access control devices, as alternatives
to the presence of security personnel. It also appears that facilities
which have previously undergone the removal of this security force
have not received adequate replacement security measures.
Finally, the most current assessments
of the 6 facilities on which USPS relied may not include adequate
information regarding such key issues as the deterrent effect of the
postal police presence on potential criminal incidents, the number
of incidents postal police respond to at these facilities, and the
capability of already burdened local police to respond to emergencies
at these locations.
The USPS and USPIS have stated that some
of the documents they provided in response to our requests contain
sensitive security information. For this reason, we are not providing
this material to you directly; however, we will inform the Postmaster
General that you will be requesting a copy of all the documents previously
provided to us. We ask that you review these materials, and other
information which may be available to you, to determine whether they
support the USPS actions to remove postal police from these 6 locations
(and others in the past).
If you encounter any problems in obtaining
the relevant documents from the USPS, please contact us or our staff.
We appreciate your assistance with this matter. Please feel free to
contact Susan Propper of Senator Lieberman’s staff at (202) 224-6599
if you have any questions.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd
Sen. Maria Cantwell Sen.
Rep. Rosa De Lauro
Rep. John B. Larson
cc: John E. Potter, Postmaster General
Lee R. Heath, Chief Postal Inspector
Fraternal Order of Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAX (603) 308-7660
Despite Increased Risk, Postal Service to Eliminate
Police in Six Cities
In a letter dated June 12, 2003, U.S. Postal Service
Labor Relations Manager Doug A. Tulino notified the U.S. Postal Police
Officer’s union of plans to close police operations in the following
six cities: Birmingham, AL; Buffalo, NY; Denver, CO; Hartford, CT;
Jacksonville, FL; Seattle, WA. Despite increased terrorist threats
targeted at government property and employees; and despite the Anthrax
attacks of 2001, Tulino said the reason for the closures is that a
review has shown the presence of armed postal police is no longer
warranted at these facilities.
In December 2002, the U.S. General Accounting Office
submitted a report to Congress which stated U.S. Postal Service deposits
totaling $65 billion a year are vulnerable to theft, robbery and mishandling
because of inadequate security and failure to follow procedures. The
report was initiated after a 28-year Postal Service employee, walked
out of a non-police controlled Phoenix mail facility with $3.2 million
in June 2001. The suspect was later spotted hundreds of miles away
by a Seattle Postal Police Officer. The suspect was subsequently convicted
and sentenced to three years and five months in prison. About $1.7
million in cash was recovered. In January 2003, the GAO put Postal
Service real property on its "high risk" list.
Most large postal facilities have no police protection
at all, despite the fact that a large volume of cash and valuables
are routinely processed through them. Even after the horrible events
of 9/11, the Postal Inspection Service has emphasized their "plain-clothes"
investigative mission over patrol, prevention, and protection. In
September of 2000, there were 1300 uniformed Postal Police nationwide.
It is projected that the number will drop to approximately 975 officers
in September 2003. Three Postal Police training classes have been
cancelled this year alone while heavy recruiting efforts continue
for new-hire inspectors.
Postal Police Officers are a highly trained, armed,
visible deterrent. Training begins at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center in Georgia, and continues with training and skills
qualification throughout their careers. According to the Congressional
Record, Congressman Bill Lipinski recently stated, "Postal Police
Officers are first responders in this unprecedented Front Line on
the War on Terror--the U.S. mail system."
According to the notification letter, postal operations
are to continue in the six affected cities, but all U.S. Postal Police
and management assignments will be abolished. The Fraternal Order
of Police, National Labor Council, USPS No. 2 is the sole collective
bargaining unit for U.S. Postal Police--the only unionized employees
of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The U.S. Postal Inspection
Service is the primary law enforcement branch of the USPS. Representatives
of the FOP-NLC #2 are scheduled to meet with USPIS representatives
in Washington, D.C. on June 19.