America’s rising, out-of-control crime wave claims a growing number of Postal Service workers as victims of robberies, beatings and even murder. It is time to fight back and arm at least some of them with tasers. Federal law should also be changed to allow trained postal workers to carry guns.
In bold and vicious ways, postal carriers are being attacked for the keys to blue mailboxes and for mail itself, which has large amounts of ATM cards, financial assets, and personal information that can be used for identity theft.
On February 27, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) alerted financial institutions on the nationwide surge in check fraud schemes involving the mail.
“Criminals have been increasingly targeting the U.S. Mail and United States Postal Service mail carriers since the COVID-19 pandemic to commit check fraud,” said FinCEN. “Criminals typically steal personal checks, business checks, tax refund checks, and checks related to government assistance programs,” FinCEN continued.
Postal Service workers go to every address in the United States. That means, every day they visit the most dangerous, crime-ridden, drug-infested neighborhoods. Even crack houses are entitled to postal deliveries. With fentanyl and other drug use rising, the challenges are daunting.
In Oakland, Calif., following a series of attacks on postal workers, including a murder, USPS officials held a news conference on March 20 to ask for the public’s help. This followed a March 3 letter from Oakland’s postmaster that said, “We are asking for your help and vigilance” after a “disturbing” rise in criminal acts against postal workers, vehicles and mailboxes.
In Milwaukee, 44-year-old postal worker Aundre Cross was murdered, allegedly by a gang of four criminals, now under arrest, who followed him while on duty. Cross is remembered by family, co-workers and friends as hardworking, dependable, and a loving father and husband.
Tasers are tried-and-true defensive weapons that send out 50,000 volts of electricity to incapacitate, but seldom kill, a perpetrator. Typically, it takes the person tasered 15 minutes to recover, during which time the police can be called, and the carrier and others can get to safety.
Federal law prohibits postal workers from carrying firearms, either on or off USPS property, except for those employees specifically authorized by USPS’s chief postal inspector or inspector general. Tasers are not considered firearms, though some states require a concealed carry permit.
As of 2021, there were about 1,300 postal inspectors in the Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of USPS whose professionals are authorized to carry weapons. But the size of USPS’s uniformed police force, which has many responsibilities, has been shrinking as the national crime wave is rising.
However, USPS employs nearly 63,000 military veterans who can quickly be brought up to speed on taser use. Tasers will help to protect them, their colleagues — particularly those working in post offices in dangerous areas — and the public.
While tasers are not the silver bullet in fighting postal crime, they are an easy-to-use and effective tool that will literally send shock waves toward those thinking of harming the Postal Service while also bringing many crimes directly to a halt.
USPS must also work closely with local law enforcement to determine how its police force can best be deployed and work closely with the Department of Justice and other federal law enforcement partners.
And there is no time to waste.