November 29, 2023

Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Address Rise in Attacks on Postal Workers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Senate colleagues today introduced bipartisan legislation that would address the steep increase in armed robberies against postal workers, who are often targeted for their arrow keys that allow access to some mailboxes and their contents.

“For over 200 years the United States Postal Service has been a central fixture of the American government. The recent cases of mail theft and the alarming uptick in assaults against postal workers is unacceptable,” Wyden said. “If Postmaster DeJoy refuses to act, Congress must do everything it can to improve protections for these essential workers.”

The Postal Inspection Service reports that armed robberies of letter carriers increased sharply between 2018 and 2021, rising fourfold from 36 incidents to 154 incidents.  The arrow keys can command thousands of dollars on the clandestine market because they allow access to cluster mailboxes and their contents, which include Social Security checks, prescriptions, and other valuable items.

In 2020, under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the U.S. Postal Service issued a directive that restricted Postal Police Officers to physical USPS properties. This directive has prevented Postal Police Officers from protecting the postal service and the integrity of the postal system outside physical postal properties.  Prior to the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which granted greater authority to USPS to control Postal Law enforcement, Congress regularly granted Postal Police Officers authority to carry out their duties both on and off USPS property through annual appropriations language. The Postal Police Reform Act of 2023 would counteract Postmaster General DeJoy’s 2020 directive and again allow Postal Police Officers to operate outside of Postal Service real property.

The Act would clarify provisions in federal law to ensure that Postal Police Officers may be assigned to duty outside of Postal Service real property, for the purpose of protecting the mail, Postal Service property, persons on Postal Service property, and on-duty Postal Service employees.  This clarification will allow the Postal Service to assign Postal Police Officers to protect letter carriers against robberies, which are often committed to steal “arrow” master keys for use in later mail theft.  The Postal Police Reform Act provides the Postal Service with the flexibility to use the Postal Police as the service needs, without imposing additional costs on the Postal Service.

The legislation was led by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. Alongside Wyden, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Chris Coons, D-Del., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Angus King, I-Maine.

The Postal Police Reform Act has earned endorsements from the National Association of Postal Supervisors and the Postal Police Officers Association.

The text of the bill is here.