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FLEOA Weighs in on Behalf of USPS Law Enforcement

February 23, 2021

Chair Carolyn Maloney
Committee on Oversight and Reform 
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515 

Ranking Member James Comer 
Committee on Oversight and Reform
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515 

Dear Chair Maloney and Ranking Member Comer, 

I am writing to you today on behalf of the more than 30,000 members of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) to provide our views for the Committee’s upcoming hearing on "Legislative Proposals to Put the Postal Service on Sustainable Financial Footing.” 

FLEOA is the nation’s largest non-partisan professional association, representing federal law enforcement officers from 65 federal agencies and including U.S. Postal Police Officers, Postal Inspectors, and Criminal Investigators with the Office of Inspector General. These brave men and women continue to perform a critical national security role by ensuring the safety, security, and integrity of the postal system and the U.S. mail. We have grave concerns about the security of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) system and its law enforcement operations related to the safety of postal facilities, assets and personnel. During the upcoming hearing, it is critical that the Committee uncover the dire circumstances USPS law enforcement operations and personnel have been placed in both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the U.S. Postal Service website it says: 

Our Postal Police Officers (PPOs) are a crucial part of the Inspection Service team. Stationed in critical postal facilities across the nation, they stand on the frontlines in the fight to protect postal employees, customers, and property. PPOs create a sense of security and safety for employees and the American public. Their presence keeps employees free from danger in the workplace and our customers feeling safe. And if disaster strikes on postal property—whether it’s natural or man-made—PPOs are often the first to respond.” 

Unfortunately, that sense of safety and security has been reduced as the Postal Service and its employees continue to confront increased crime, violence, and attacks in the 20 Metropolitan areas they serve in. As has been widely reported, the USPS has seen dramatic increases in targeted violence against the U.S. mail, its employees, and facilities all while grappling with delivering on its Constitutional obligation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to poor budgetary and management decisions, however, the ability of USPS to respond to these increased threats has declined significantly in recent years. One of the primary consequences of the poor decision-making of USPS has been a steady decline in staffing levels for the agency’s law enforcement components. Indeed, a force that was once staffed with 2,700 Postal Police officers and 1,874 Inspectors across the country in 1977, has been reduced to approximately 560 Postal Police officers and 1,200 Inspectors today. In so doing, USPS has undermined the mandate contained in federal law at 18 USC 3061 that federal law enforcement officers be deployed to protect the postal system. 

As noted, this continued reduction in USPS law enforcement staffing is occurring at a time when the targeting of the postal system is at its historical peak and rising. Including prohibiting Postal Police officers from their historic role of exercising the protection afforded by their street patrols to Postal Service asset and personnel. These staffing reductions, coupled with the increased criminal activity in many jurisdictions, has meant that local police departments—departments that have suffered their own reductions in funding and staffing—are now being tasked with responding to incidents involving USPS facilities, assets, and personnel. 

However, these local departments DO NOT prioritize responding to a criminal incident involving the Postal Service and, in many matters, DO NOT have the jurisdiction and an understanding that the Postal Service law enforcement officers would have in handling those incidents. Additionally, to try offset the lack of historic street patrols that were until recently being performed by Postal Police officers, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Agents have been pulled away from priority criminal investigations involving terrorism, mail fraud, identity theft, revenue fraud, missing children, America’s most wanted, and ever evolving new crimes that need to be anticipated and investigated, to perform these tasks that were formerly, or could be handled by their well-trained Postal Police Officers- and at a substantial cost savings to the USPS. 

These include the initial response to carrier assaults, robberies, vehicle break-ins, mail theft complaints in the field, burglary alarms, accidents, workplace violence, and other crimes. All of which were commonly handled initial responses by Postal Police Officers vs the Inspectors until most recently. This is akin to taking a homicide Detective and placing them back on patrol. All this has done is further degraded the law enforcement capabilities of the Postal Service and furthered a dangerous trend that, in our view that leaves the Postal Service, its employees, and its customers- the American Public-exposed to increased criminal activity. Thereby eroding the public trust in a historically most-trusted American institution. 
 
Additionally, the Postal Service has gone to lengths to ensure lawful pay and benefits afforded to every other federal law enforcement officer and government employee has been specifically denied to Postal Inspectors. This also includes denial of the recent paycap waiver enacted in the CARES Act passed in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, denial of the approved administrative leave process for COVID exposure and diagnosis as authorized by OPM for their law enforcement employees. Also non-management and non-veteran Postal Inspectors and OIG Special Agents are unable to access to the MSPB process and often federal courts for redress and they have severely restricted their own Postal Police officers in their ability to carry a personnel or government issued firearm to and from a Postal facility while starting and ending their tours of duty. What is most egregious is that some of these law enforcement officers, specifically the Postal Police, who all perform a range of federal law enforcement function, are not covered under the federal governments law enforcement retirement system under CSRS and FERS, called 6(c), thanks to detrimental USPS policy decisions.
 
To address the continuing reductions of these necessary law enforcement functions and ensure these law enforcement officers and the American people continue to have faith that the U.S. Postal Service and the delivery of mail be protected, we ask the following: 

1. That the Postal Service be requested to return the Postal Police and U.S. Postal Inspectors to their respective priority missions, including the Postal Police roll of protecting facilities, assets and the employees on street patrols which are best served by a uniform officer presence and thus allowing Postal Inspectors to focusing on investigating crimes that require or best served by their non-uniformed law enforcement activities.

 2. That U.S. Postal Inspectors and OIG Agents be granted the rights, as passed by Congress and signed into law, to avail themselves of the pandemic paycap waiver and additional family leave rights under both the CARES Act and FY 2021 NDAA. The U.S. Postal Inspectors and OIG Agents are the only non-bargaining, non-management consultative employee units of the Postal Service, and were told that the act did not apply to them and only to USPS bargaining unit employees. 

3. Ensure that U.S. Postal Inspectors and OIG Agents are being compensated under the same pay and benefits structure as other federal law enforcement officers. Currently the Postal Service tends to not pay night differential, overtime, and other forms of compensation to Postal Inspectors and OIG Agents and has denied or restricted them from other benefits available to federal law enforcement personnel.

 4. Ensure that every law enforcement entity within the Postal Service, including the Postal Police Officers, are covered under the law enforcement retirement provisions of CSRS and FERS, generally called 6(c) coverage. 

5. Create an oversight arm within the Postal Service called the Director of Law Enforcement and Audit Operations that could determine, coordinate, and deconflict USPIS and OIG investigative responsibilities that would a direct report to the Board of Governors. 

6. Change Postal Service policy that would allow all of their own law enforcement officers to be armed when arriving and leaving their workplace. 

As one of the clearly articulated mandates of the federal government in the Constitution, it is clear that the Postal Service and its law enforcement officers have always been properly viewed as critical to our nation's unity and security. Their role during the pandemic has also highlighted how important the postal system is with keeping America connected. It is imperative that we ensure that a system designed to keep America together not be torn apart by bad decisions and criminal activity. That is why Congress needs to act to ensure that the Postal Service is not ignoring federal mandates and the changes necessary to ensure that both the Postal Police and Postal Inspectors mission and benefits structures are consistent with other federal law enforcement officers. 


Sincerely,
Larry Cosme 
National President 
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association