AURORA — The increase in crime across the country and in Colorado in recent years is also impacting the people who deliver the mail.
Letter carriers say they are increasingly becoming victims of crime and they’re demanding change.
Area letter carriers held a rally in Aurora to bring attention to safety issues.
“I know years ago you never mess with your mailman,” said Rick Byrne, a letter carrier of 25 years. “Our customers took care of us. We were part of the community. They were our family. We were their family.”
Today, it’s a different story.
“Now it just seems like, you know, we're targets out there,” said Byrne. “Our carriers just have to have their head on a swivel and watch their back all the time.”
Byrne is president of the Colorado State Association of Letter Carriers.
He says letter carriers have increasingly become a target of criminals, including physical attacks and robberies.
“We've had an increase in robberies and assaults on letter carriers in Denver,” said Byrne.
He said crimes against letter carriers in the Denver area had increased by nearly 300%.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Denver made several posts on social media this year, asking the public for help identifying and finding suspects in crimes against postal employees.
In March, police said a letter carrier in Lakewood was robbed by two juveniles. One of the suspects was later killed by police.
After three reported assaults in Aurora, Byrne said two postal workers ended up quitting.
“It was just too much for them to take, to have to come back and look over their shoulder all the time,” said Byrne.
And it’s not just in Colorado.
The Postal Police Officers Association says assaults against postal delivery workers increased 231% over a one-year period from 2021 to 22.
That’s why letter carriers are demanding USPS and U.S. attorneys do more to protect them and to prosecute the criminals.
“The problem is federally only 14% of charges or crimes against letter carriers have been charged. That's just unacceptable,” said Byrne.
James Boxrud, a spokesperson for the USPS sent the following statement to Denver7:
“The increase in crime throughout the country over the past several years has resulted in escalating criminal incidents against United States Postal Service (USPS) employees and the mail. Every postal employee deserves to work in safety and to be free from targeting by criminals seeking to access the public's mail. In an increasingly challenging environment, the USPS and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) are highly focused on protecting postal employees and property and ensuring the secure delivery of the nation's mail and packages.
Recognizing these ongoing safety threats, we have been - and will continue to- implement an engaged, robust nationwide initiative to harden blue collection boxes, enhance collection box key and lock technology and institute dual authentication for change of address protocols. These measures not only protect the integrity of the mail but offer additional safeguards for our carriers and other employees. Furthermore, USPS and USPIS are partnering with federal and local authorities to enforce the laws and bring criminals to justice.
We will continue to adapt to evolving security threats and implement expanded measures to safeguard our employees and preserve the security of the mail that our customers expect and deserve.”