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USPS postal police say they are sidelined during time of heightened crime

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CHICAGO (WLS) — The union for postal police mentioned they have been as soon as 2,700 members sturdy. Now, there are about 400 officers who say they are banned from patrolling streets, and relegated to defending solely postal amenities.
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Chicago’s Postal Inspector in Charge mentioned the mission of the postal police stays the identical: shield workers, prospects and property.

“In any situation where someone takes something from you, you feel violated,” retired mail provider Alvin Charleston mentioned.

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He recalled being robbed of his mail keys on his Chicago route.

“As he approached me he said give me your keys, and that’s when he showed me the weapon he had,” he mentioned.

“So those keys. They’re called arrow keys, and they open up all blue collection boxes, all apartment panels, cluster boxes in a given zip code,” mentioned Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officers Association.

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“They’re easy targets. Carriers aren’t carrying weapons,” mentioned retired Postal Police Officer James Bjork.

He mentioned defending carriers on their routes was once half of his job as a postal police officer.

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“The officers on the day shift and afternoon shift would do letter carrier protection patrols,” he mentioned.

That modified in 2020 when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service clarified the legislation figuring out jurisdiction for postal police officers, limiting them to its service amenities, despite the fact that they are sworn federal legislation enforcement officers.

“The jurisdiction remains the same. The need to have them at our facilities, providing that security aspect is paramount to our overall mission. So you know, I don’t think the jurisdiction has changed. We, we, you know, we re-examined it, got clarification. And now we’re focused on that,” mentioned Bill Hedrick, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Chicago.

“It’d be like telling Chicago police, stay in the police station,” mentioned Bjork.

“What they’ve done is shift the burden to local police departments,” mentioned Albergo. “Local police departments obviously have other things to worry about.”

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The postal service has not escaped the present crime pattern. The president of Chicago’s letter carriers union mentioned a postal employee was robbed of their keys at gunpoint on Monday within the Roseland neighborhood.

An I-Team knowledge evaluation reveals in 2020, the Postal Inspection Service responded to greater than 7,000 reviews nationwide of violent crimes towards postal workers. Since October, greater than 165 letter carriers, together with many within the Chicago space, have been victims of armed robberies, a major improve since 2019.

From March 2020 to February 2021, there have been 753 postal inspection service mail fraud circumstances and 1,090 postal inspection service mail theft circumstances. The Chicago division dealt with 39 mail fraud circumstances during that very same time interval, up from 29 from the 12 months earlier than. As for theft circumstances, they dealt with 44, down from 54.

According to Hinsdale Police, a person with a gun took a provider’s keys final Monday close to Stough and Hinsdale Avenue. No arrests have been made. The police report says the stolen key’s a “series 76 key and could open all the mailboxes” in Oak Brook, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge and half of Willowbrook.

Investigators say these keys promote for as a lot as $7,000.

“Any crime associated with the Postal Service, our employees, or our customers that involves the mail is a priority for us,” mentioned Hedrick.

“They have decimated our ranks by 20% since 2019,” mentioned Albergo.

Chicago’s Inspector in Charge saidthat’s not the case.

“The complement for Chicago has remained the same over the last 10 years for postal police officers,” Hedrick mentioned.

A brand new coaching class of postal police officers is meant to start in August. The first because the starting of the pandemic.

“We exist to protect postal employees and the mail,” mentioned Albergo. “But now we’re being handcuffed to postal facilities.”

“The management’s responsibility is to ensure the safety of his employees,” mentioned retired mail provider Charleston.

The postal service is at the moment in contract negotiations with the union for postal police. Its members are additionally attempting to get a invoice handed in Congress to revive their jurisdictional authority, which might permit them to as soon as once more patrol outdoors postal amenities.

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