Postal Service Should Assess Security Needs Before Eliminating Security Officers

WASHINGTON – A group of Connecticut and Washington state lawmakers, in an ongoing exchange with Postmaster General John Potter, are expressing discontent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s decision to terminate the use of armed security officers at six major facilities, including ones in Hartford and Seattle, despite serious questions the lawmakers raised regarding the decision.

“We are extremely disappointed that you did not directly respond to our specific request that you suspend the proposed terminations until a complete assessment is done of Postal Service security requirements,” wrote the lawmakers in their second letter to Postmaster General John Potter on this issue, “While your response did provide additional documentation we requested, as discussed briefly below, that information raises even more questions concerning the process used by the Postal Service to justify these terminations.” The lawmakers also sent a letter to Inspector General David C. Williams Wednesday, requesting that he conduct an audit of the Postal Service to determine whether USPS is implementing sufficient security measures to protect employees and customers. In the letter to Williams, the lawmakers wrote: “We are concerned that the decision to remove postal police from these locations is not supported by 1997 and 2001 assessments of the security needs of these facilities and that the USPS’ plans to substitute contract security personnel and physical security measures for the presence of postal police does not adequately safeguard postal employees, customers or the assets of the USPS.” “I am concerned that this decision could put the safety and security of Connecticut’s mail system in jeopardy,” said Dodd. “The anthrax attacks and the tragic loss of life of postal workers were harsh reminders of the need to ensure the safety and preparedness of our postal facilities. We must give these workers the tools they need to protect themselves and prevent future attacks on our mail system.” “After reading the Postmaster General’s response to our first letter, I am more concerned, not less, that the decision to terminate these positions compromises the security of postal workers and customers,” said Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.,“These hard-working officers provide vital security to postal workers, visitors, and the mail, and have the ability to respond immediately to any threats or other incidents. They and their jobs are too important to be dismissed or relocated before a fair and unbiased assessment of the facilities they protect is finished.” “Given the new environment that exists and the potential threats we face, we must ensure the security of federal facilities,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “Removing trained security officers from post offices does not appear to make these sites safer.” “At this critical time when new reports indicate there might be future terrorist attacks on United States soil, we should not be reducing the number of law enforcement personnel at our nation’s post offices,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “In light of the continuing terrorist threat, I find it hard to understand why the postal service seems to be the only agency eliminating security,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. “The decision to remove postal police from these locations is misguided, and appears to have been made without regard for the security needs of the facilities, postal employees and visitors,” said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.