Postal Police Officers, or PPO’s, exist. PPO’s have been employed by the United States Postal Service and overseen by the United States Postal Inspection Service for decades.

According to the National President Postal Police Officers Association, Frank Albergo, they patrolled streets for 50 years protecting mail and mail carriers.

“People are not going to rob a letter carrier knowing that postal police officers are on patrol,” he said.

But in 2020, a USPS memorandum changed their jurisdiction, making it so PPO’s are only allowed to man postal buildings – no longer able to patrol.

“There are postal police officers in Houston, and they’re not being utilized to stop mail theft. This isn’t hard to figure out. You have postal police officers that specialize in mail theft prevention and protection of mail carriers and the postal service refuses to use them,” said Albergo.

USPIS has acknowledged an intense rise in mail carrier robberies in the latest annual report of their Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.

They say those robberies target mail carriers to get access to their “arrow keys” that open numerous mail boxes.

According to those reports, from 2019 to FY 2022, robberies more than quadrupled from 94 to 423. While the arrest rate concerning those robberies plummeted from 70% to 23%. Arrests rates for all crime dropped from 98% in FY 2019 to 78% in FY 2022.

“It’s been an absolute disaster. Mail is being stolen day after day, letter carriers are being robbed, identities stolen, bank accounts drained, something has to be done,” said Albergo.

We reached out to USPIS asking for an interview to better understand the circumstances around PPO jurisdiction.

They declined to interview and responded with an email that can be read in its entirety below.

In the email they say, “Given the lack of statutory authority for PPO law enforcement activity off postal premises, curtailing such use of PPOs was necessary to protect individual PPOs and the Postal Service more broadly from legal liability. In 2020, a federal court confirmed, in response to the PPOs’ contrary assertions, that the Postal Service’s determination of PPOs’ jurisdiction constituted a reasonable interpretation of the law.”

They also explain how the inspection service is structured, saying, “From a more practical perspective, we also question the effectiveness or appropriateness of expanding the role of PPOs beyond the protection of real property, given the structure of the Inspection Service.”

Going on to say, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes seriously its role to safeguard America and will continue to aggressively pursue perpetrators that use the U.S. Mail system to further their illegal activity.”

There are currently two bills in Congress that would restore the jurisdiction of PPO’s. House Bill 3005 and Senate Bill 3356.