The Holiday/Peak Season has arrived and as letter carriers, it’s our time of the
year to shine, and show our customers the best possible service we can provide. The
Postal Service expects to deliver 12 billion mail pieces this holiday season, including
850-950 million packages. This large amount of mail volume places us in a position
to work longer hours. We start our routes in the daylight and end the day in the dark.
Hence the title of this article, “Beware of your surroundings”. Letter carriers deliver
mail and packages 7-days a week. We are an easy target for assaults and attacks. Just
prior to the writing of this article, several Branch 36 Letter Carriers have been the
victim of attacks and or assaults.
When I began my career in the early eighties it was a very rare occurrence for a letter carrier to be the victim of an assault. During that era, letter carriers were more respected for the job that they did. We were not viewed as an easy target. We serve our communities and generally there was a line that was not crossed as we provided service to all of our customers. As society changed, so has its attitude towards us. We have become victims more often. There are many assaults on carriers that do not make the headlines. Early in my carrier a carrier was shot at with a BB gun. He recuperated and transferred out of the station. Keeping yourself safe and secure is your number one priority. Be alert, be observant and above all be careful.
The fact of the matter is that non-employees are responsible for the vast majority of workplace assaults and homicides. Most workplace assaults and homicides occur during a robbery. Take suspicious people and verbal threats seriously. If you find yourself in a predicament that might or could develop into an assault; try to remain calm and be within sight of as many people as possible. Avoid secluded spots. Once an attack begins the attacker crosses a psychological threshold. An attacker or criminal may resort to violence to demonstrate who’s in charge. If you notice suspicious people take it seriously, even if you don’t feel like you’re in immediate danger. Do not confront the attacker. Be accommodating to their demands. Be alert, even verbal attacks can lead to an assault. If you find yourself in a situation that might put you in danger, contact the local police (911), and then your supervisor. Your supervisor in turn will contact Postal Inspectors. One of the highest priorities Postal Inspectors have is to protect postal employees. When a letter carrier is attacked or threatened, Postal Inspectors must promptly investigate any assault or threat and aggressively initiate appropriate criminal charges. You can also call the US Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. Robbing or assaulting a postal employee is a federal offense that can carry with it a sentence of up 20 years. If you informed management of any threat against you and no action was taken immediately, file a PS Form 1767 and speak with your shop steward. We cannot control the lengths someone will go to when they want to harm us. Even with our best efforts to avoid danger we sometimes fall short and become victims. Report all concerns to your immediate supervisor and union steward. A physical or emotional attack is considered a traumatic injury. Immediately file a CA-1. Every day on the job brings new interactions and situations with customers and the public. The most important delivery of the day is always at the end of your route. Even though you are likely to know your route inside and out be aware of your surroundings that could put you at risk. Always remember, you are your most important delivery. Have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday.