In 1737, Benjamin Franklin becomes the first Postmaster General (USPS, 2016). In 1772, Benjamin Franklin creates the position of “Surveyors” (USPS, 2016). The Surveyors position is the forefather of the Postal Service Special Agent (USPS, 2016).
The new American Congress understood the value of mail and open communications among a new nation (USPS, 2016). Congress took the crime against the U.S. mail as serious criminal offence (USPS, 2016). In 1792 Congress passed a law making he stealing of U.S. mail punishable by death (USPS, 2016).
During the War of 1812, the U.S. Postal Special Agents reported on the movements of the British fleet on the Potomac River (USPS, 2016).
In 1829, Preston Loughborough was appointed as the first U.S. Chief Postal Inspector in charge of directing and strategic planning of postal special agents (USPS, 2016). Postal special agents were responsible to protect the mail on steamboats, stagecoaches, railroads, and postal offices (USPS, 2016).
In 1880, U.S. special agents for the post office changed their name by an act of Congress to Post Office Inspectors (USPS, 2016).
Evolving into a Modern Federal Law Enforcement Agency
The first postal inspector to be killed in the line of duty was Post Office Inspector Charles Fitzgerald on Wednesday, September 23, 1908 (USPS, 2016). Inspector Fitzgerald was shot by another postal worker after discovering missing funds (USPS, 2016).
In 1934, U.S. Postal Inspectors were given the task of transferring the nations gold reserve from New York City to Fort Knox by railroad (USPS, 2016). The task was performed without incident due to the professionalism and coordination of the U.S. postal inspectors (USPS, 2016).
In 1940, the U.S Postal Inspector Service established a forensic lab to help with investigating postal crimes (USPS, 2016).
In 1971, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service establishes a uniform division known as the U.S. Postal Police (USPS, 2016). Also in 1971, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service becomes one of the first federal law enforcement agencies to open the hiring of agents to females (USPS, 2016).
In 1998, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service plays a major role in the investigation and successful conviction of Ted Kaczynski, known as the “Unabomber” (USPS, 2016).
The Challenges of the Future
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service plays a vital role in protecting the U.S. Mail. With advancement in technology the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will find the challenge of investigating mail crimes a daunting task to eliminate the sophisticated methods of criminal and unfriendly foreign governments from disruption mail services.
United States Postal Service (USPS). (2016). Postal inspection service. History. Retrieved from https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/aboutus/History.aspx
About the Author
Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.