Crimes against mail carriers on the rise

Group addresses violence against postal workers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The local letter carriers association is warning its members about dangers on the job.

In areas like South Florida, attacks on postal services workers are going up. Since 2008, seven people  in the state have been charged with injuring postal carriers.

While the United States Postal Service does not track statistics on those crimes, some in the industry argue the increase in violence over the past few years is noticeable.

"It's definitely been more of an issue in recent years and we warn our members that if something doesn't feel right, they should get out of the area and involve their supervisor and the police," said Mike Gill, the president of a branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Recently a postal worker was beaten because that employee refused to give mail to a person on the street because he didn't recognize them. And in Miami, a mail carrier was murdered so the suspects could take his master key.

And while it does not seem to be as much of an issue locally, at the Letter Carriers Association's annual conference last week in Jacksonville, they discussed the uptick in crime.  

They discussed ways workers can defend themselves, both by being alert and carrying defensive items dog spray, which has the same effect as mace.  

Bob Henning, a letter carrier in Jacksonville for 35 years, was at the meeting. He said they told workers being more aware of their surroundings while working can help avoid any violence.

"If they come across a situation where somebody's giving them a hard time or something we just ask them to leave their route, call their supervisor and get instructions from there."

While he never experienced any violence while on the job he did have a few bizarre moments. 

"I had somebody stealing social security checks when I was delivering ... [A] policeman pulled up and ... said well as fast as your putting social security checks in the mailbox he's taking them out. But nowadays we've got direct deposit so there isn't too much of that going on," said Henning.

Debbie Fetterly, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman in South Florida, said employee safety is a priority.

"USPS always tells employees that they are our most valuable resource and that we want to deliver them home safely each day," Fetterly said. "Safeguards include special training and awareness programs as well as having a threat assessment team that evaluates and takes action on serious threats made to employee."

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