Some postal workers are concerned over their safety after recent armed robberies and attacks on U.S. Postal Service carriers both in Chicago and across the country.
Postal carrier Aundre Cross was shot and killed Friday in Milwaukee while delivering mail. In a separate case, a man in late October received numerous felony charges, including aggravated kidnapping and attempted aggravated sexual assault of a postal carrier in the Little Village neighborhood.
Elise Foster, vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11, said postal carriers are often targeted for their arrow key, which is a universal key used to access things like collection boxes, parcel lockers and apartment mailbox panels.
Foster’s union represents over 4,800 letter carriers and retirees, including in Chicago.
“We have attacks on letter carriers with their arrow keys, taking packages, whatever they have, they have to surrender everything to the robber,” Foster said. “The letter carrier has to protect themselves; they have to be safe.”
Foster said last month the union spoke with leadership and asked for more support to protect letter carriers. They are raising issues around late starting times and long hours that leave some carriers out making deliveries in the dark, especially as sunset is earlier this time of year.
The U.S. Postal Service expects this week to be its busiest delivery week of the holiday season.
WTTW News also invited the USPS to join us for this discussion, but they declined. A representative of the USPS issued a statement in which they highlighted the work of the Postal Inspection Service. The agency conducts investigations into mail theft, mail fraud, financial crimes, violent crimes and prohibited mailings such as weapons and drugs.
“Like any law enforcement agency, however, the success of their investigations often correlates with the timeliness of victim reporting. As such, they urge any victim to contact local law enforcement and the Postal Inspection Service as soon as possible so they can better investigate the crime and hold those responsible to justice. Their 24/7 Hotline number is (877) 876-2455,” the statement reads. “The Inspection Service also provides these general safety tips for employees. It is important to maintain vigilance year-round – safety is not a concern just around the holidays. Whether on a carrier route or handling mail on the workroom floor of a Postal facility, if Postal employees witness suspicious activity, or are the victims of threats, attacks, or other criminal activity, affected employees should get to a safe location as soon as possible and report the incident to their management, Postal Inspectors, and, if necessary, local law enforcement.”