Postal police officers union sues over limitations on mail theft investigations

Postal police officers union sues over limitations on mail theft investigations
© Greg Nash

The Postal Police Officers Association on Monday filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyThird judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts Postmaster general says postal service can't return mail-sorting machines Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime MORE over limiting investigations of mail theft to those that occur solely on post office property.

The officers union alleged in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the move puts postal police officers and other employees “in increased danger and increases the likelihood of criminal activity against Postal Service employees and the U.S. mail.” 

The Postal Service announced the new policy on Aug. 25, saying the authority of postal police officers was limited to “real property” of the postal service. According to the court filing, that change "declared that Postal Police Officers should no longer be assigned to investigate or prevent mail theft or protection of letter carriers" unless it occurred on Postal Service premises.

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The association added that postal police officers have historically been tasked with enforcing the “security” and “loss prevention” of mail, as well as conducting surveillance and pursuing “complete investigations of reported misdemeanors and minor crimes.”

“The Postal Service’s sudden change is unwarranted, impermissible, and contrary to the language of the statute and also to collective bargaining promises it has made to the officers’ union,” the officers association said in the lawsuit.

When reached for comment, a Postal Service spokesperson said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

"However, we would like to point out that the underlying factual and legal issues raised in this complaint arose well before Louis DeJoy began his service as the Postmaster General," the spokesperson added in an email.

DeJoy started as postmaster general in mid-June.

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The legal action follows DeJoy's testimony last month before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the Postal Service and the upcoming elections. The second of the two hearings was held Aug. 24, a day before the new policy on investigations was announced.

DeJoy, who has made substantial financial contributions to the GOP in the past, denied any effort to assist President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE in his reelection efforts, saying before the House committee that he had spoken to “people that are friends of mine who are associated with the campaign,” but not Trump campaign leadership, about the president’s unsupported claims that voting by mail leads to widespread voter fraud.

DeJoy added in the hearing that the Postal Service is “fully capable and committed to delivering the nation's ballots securely and on time” and that it would be his “number one priority” through Election Day.