WASHINGTON – A group of Connecticut and Washington state lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction Friday with a U.S. Postal Inspection Service decision to terminate the use of armed security officers at six major facilities, including ones in Hartford and Seattle. The USPS decision regarding the Postal Police comes before the completion of an ongoing survey to assess postal security.
“We are writing to express our concern about the implications these actions have for the security of USPS employees, customers and the mail itself at the more than two dozen facilities affected by this ongoing review,” said the lawmakers, who include Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., in a letter to Postmaster General John Potter. Dodd said: “I am concerned that this decision could put the safety and security of Connecticut’s mail system in jeopardy. 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.” “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,” said Lieberman. “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.” “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. “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.” “The decision to terminate the presence of postal police at the Hartford facility and in other facilities throughout the nation is disturbing, given general security concerns and in light of the anthrax related terrorist acts that occurred following September 11,” said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn. “It is clear that a full review and explanation of the process that led the Postal Service to make these decisions is needed.” “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 lawmakers asked Potter to suspend planned re-deployments of Postal Police Officers while the review is ongoing, and to discourage using the review merely as an excuse to reallocate resources. “If the purpose of the assessment is to objectively determine how best to deploy or redeploy security resources throughout the USPS,” the lawmakers wrote, “then it should be used to do so and not simply to provide an excuse for moving resources to pre-determined locations.” Postal Police Officers are postal employees who undergo months of federal law enforcement training to ensure facility security. They escort high value cash transfers, respond to alarms, robberies, accidents and other crimes or situations involving postal employees and property. In place of the employees, some of whom have been protecting the postal facilities for decades, the USPS plans to use unarmed contract employees and additional physical security devices such as barriers, closed circuit televisions, and alarms. Below is a link to the letter.