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Staying safe

Barksdale discusses crime, offers tips

Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale addresses a National Postal Forum audience in 2019.

Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale has a message for Postal Service employees: Be careful out there.

“To say the last year and a half has been challenging is an understatement,” Barksdale said, citing statistics that show violent crime has surged during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, FBI data show murders are up 30 percent.

The Postal Service has not escaped the trend: Last year, the Postal Inspection Service responded to more than 7,000 reports of violent crimes against postal employees, including threats, assaults and homicides.

Since the beginning of October, the Inspection Service has investigated four shooting incidents targeting employees that left four dead and another seriously wounded.

“Although protecting the mail and valuable postal assets is every employee’s concern, you are your most important delivery,” Barksdale said. “You may know your route inside and out, but don’t ever take your safety for granted. If you feel you’re in danger, focus first and foremost on your own personal safety.”

To further help employees, the Inspection Service provides these tips:

• Be aware of your surroundings and think about situations where you may be at risk.

• If a suspicious person follows you, leave the area and contact your supervisor.

• If you see suspicious activity around a postal facility or postal vehicle, leave the area and find someplace safe. Call 911 when it’s safe to do so. Then, call your supervisor, who will call postal inspectors.

• Write down any details you can remember, such as a description of the suspect, license plate number and direction of travel.

“Don’t lower your guard — be aware of your surroundings,” Barksdale said. “Our goal is the same as yours. We want you to work in a safe environment, and at the end of the day, return home safely to your families and loved ones.”

The Postal Inspection Service website has additional tips and information for employees.