More than mailmen with guns

"The Inspection Service is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country and has a reputation for quality investigations," explains U.S. Postal Inspector Lawrence Dukes Jr. "Inspectors get to work a variety of investigations, specializing in...


Inspectors use a compensation chart equivalent to the Government Service pay scale for GS1811/federal law enforcement officers. "Each candidate's salary will vary between GS 9–12 depending on their experience and qualifications," Dukes explains. Inspectors also receive locality pay (ranging from 13.86 percent to 34.35 percent in 2009) and law enforcement availability pay (LEAP). LEAP increases annual salaries by 25 percent once an inspector graduates from the academy. A federal transfer (1811) would receive LEAP while at the academy. Inspectors fall under either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Diversity in assignment

The Postal Inspection Service offers inspectors a wide range of duty locations and a variety of assignment options. Eighteen divisions are located throughout the country and each division consists of multiple domiciles. Some divisions cover multiple states. Some states have more than one division depending on size. "A number of factors go into deciding where to assign new inspectors," explains Dukes. "The needs of the Inspection Service are the main determinant, with recruitment location and other factors also being considered." New hires are assigned based on need right out of the academy. "You can be relocated at the needs of the service," Dukes states. "For the most part, movement is only initiated by the inspector. There is no requirement to transfer."

A number of teams exist within the Postal Inspection Service allowing inspectors to work in a diverse number of areas depending on need, qualifications and interest. Inspectors enforce around 200 federal laws. A few special Postal Inspection teams include:

Violent crimes

Postal inspectors work on national programs related to mail theft, robberies, burglaries, assaults, workplace violence, identity theft, fraudulent change of address, reward program, counterfeit postal money orders, and confidential informants/source of information. Workplace violence within the postal service seemed to hit an all-time high in the 1990s. The Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to making sure all employees are safe from internal and external threats. In response to this, inspectors will step in supporting the Postal Service's zero-tolerance policy and act quickly to provide an "immediate and firm response" including arrest and prosecution. This dedication helped drop postal-related assaults and credible threats from 781 investigated in 2008 to 569 in 2009.

Child exploitation

"The Inspection Service has been investigating the sexual exploitation of children when it involves the use of the U.S. mail for more than a century," Dukes says. "The Inspection Service has partnered with the Department of Justice (Project Safe Childhood) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to identify and assist with the prosecution of those who seek to sexually exploit children. We have inspectors who work directly with trial attorneys of the DOJ's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS)." The Postal Inspection Service was the first federal law enforcement agency to aggressively identify, target and arrest those who produce and traffic-in child pornography. In 2009, postal inspectors identified and rescued 60 children who were victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, initiated 214 new investigations, arrested 187 suspects and identified 39 child molesters. These investigations and arrests include both the identification of individuals, as well as major commercial distribution enterprises. Nearly all cases of investigations of child exploitation by the Postal Service involve the Internet as well as the mail. Due to this, postal inspectors work closely with the DOJ.

Dangerous mail

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