CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL-5), Sean Casten (D-IL-6), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to express their concern over the inadequate response to the rise in violent crime against mail carriers. The letter comes after the lawmakers received an apathetic response to a Durbin-led letter in July that called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to protect postal workers. Since 2018, mail carrier robberies have more than tripled from 80 robberies to more than 260 robberies in 2021.
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“We write to express concern with the inaction in response to the uptick in violence and crime committed against letter carriers in Chicago and around the country… Criminals frequently target carriers for their master keys, often reselling these keys to other criminals for thousands of dollars. We call upon the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service (the Board) to take the necessary steps to ensure postal workers across the nation can carry out their jobs in peace,” the lawmakers began.
The lawmakers went on to express frustration that DeJoy did not act to protect postal carriers despite their July letter noting the severity of these attacks against postal employees. Last week, Durbin received a response to the July letter from the Postal Inspection Service, which pointed to a special taskforce that specializes in addressing crime against postal employees. However, mail carriers continue to be robbed of their arrow keys at gun point, allowing perpetrators to steal and wash thousands of dollars in checks.
“In July, we sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to express these same concerns. Responding to our letter, the Postal Inspection Service pointed to the creation of a special taskforce to address crimes against postal employees. Unfortunately, this approach is not working. Postal employees in Chicago continue to have to perform their jobs while fearing for their lives. We request that the Board hold the United States Postal Service’s leadership accountable,” the lawmakers continued.
Pointing out that approaches used to address a similar rise in crime against postal workers in 2011 had been abandoned, the lawmakers urged the Board to find a sufficient communication system to alert postal employees of threats in their immediate area.
“Following a similar increase in carrier robberies and assaults in 2011, the Postal Service launched an aggressive outreach campaign to notify all letter carriers and station-based employees of the appropriate steps and precautions to take when a crime had been committed in their vicinity. Only recently has the Postal Service stopped this important program that had helped protect the safety of its workforce,” wrote the lawmakers.
Emphasizing that the U.S. postal employees deserve to work in a safe environment with the support of the Postmaster General, the lawmakers concluded their letter by calling on the Board to exercise its oversight authority to protect mail carriers who are simply providing a public service.
“The inadequate response from the Postal Service and its leadership has caused us to lose confidence in the management of a vital public service,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge the Board to exercise its oversight authority to restore confidence in the leadership of the Postal Service and address the health and safety concerns of employees.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.