WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation to help protect Ohioans’ mail – including their Social Security checks, prescriptions, and other valuable items. The Postal Police Reform Act would help address the steep increase in armed robberies against postal workers, who are often targeted for their “arrow” master keys, by clarifying that Postal Police Officers may be assigned to duty outside of physical Post Office locations, helping to extend protection to letter carriers on their routes.
The Postal Inspection Service reports that armed robberies of letter carriers increased sharply between 2018 and 2021. Postal workers often carry “arrow” master keys, which can command thousands of dollars on the clandestine market because they allow access to cluster mailboxes and their contents, on their routes.
“Too many Ohioans have had their mail stolen and too many postal workers face threats on the job. Postal robberies and mail theft are federal crimes, and the responsibility to protect postal workers and their mail should not be pushed onto overwhelmed local law enforcement personnel across Ohio,” said Brown. “Since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has limited Postal Police Officers’ ability to do their jobs, this bill is necessary to empower the Postal Police to keep our postal workers safe and ensure Ohioans receive their mail.”
In 2020, under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) 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.
Specifically, the Postal Police Reform Act of 2023 would clarify provisions in federal law to ensure that Postal Police Officers may be assigned to duty outside of physical USPS locations, 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.
In addition to Brown, the Postal Police Reform Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Angus King (I-ME).
The Postal Police Reform Act has earned endorsements from the National Association of Postal Supervisors and the Postal Police Officers Association.
Brown has been at the forefront of working to improve USPS.
Last year, Brown voiced his concerns about the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS), an automated system to determine carrier pay, in part by tracking carriers using a mobile scanning device that has been rife with errors and called on Postmaster General DeJoy to fix the system.
In October 2022, Brown sent a letter to Postmaster General DeJoy and Inspector General Whitcomb Hull urging them to restore the patrolling functions of Postal Police Officers and take necessary steps to address the increase in mail theft and postal robberies to help keep mail carriers and Ohioans safe. Following this letter, in November 2022, Brown asked the USPS Board of Governors to promptly take action after receiving no response from USPS Postmaster General DeJoy and Inspector General Whitcomb Hull.
In March 2022, Brown voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will guarantee continued six-day delivery and make deliveries timelier and more efficient. Last year, Brown led 33 of his colleagues in pressing Postmaster General DeJoy on persistent mail delays and what action he is taking to restore on-time mail delivery. Brown also joined 33 of his Senate Colleagues in a letter to Postmaster General DeJoy calling on him to immediately reverse all operational and organizational changes that resulted in delays of critical medications to Americans.