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The United States Postal Service endeavors to protect the integrity of mail and ensure that its channels are not used for the commission of crimes. This job is given to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is the law enforcement arm of the USPS. Its mandate is to protect the USPS from “crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system or postal employees.” Those who work for the Postal Inspection Service are more popularly known as Postal Inspectors.

The USPIS traces its roots back to 1772 when the USPS was formed and as such is one of the oldest federal law-enforcement agencies in the United States. Postal Inspectors are fact-finding and investigative agents. As such, they are allowed to carry firearms, make arrests, and serve search warrants and subpoenas. Although their main task is to safeguard mail and postal workers, they also assist federal and joint investigations on matters that involve the Postal Service.

If you want to be a Postal Inspector, you can be assigned in any of the seven investigative teams. These teams involve those who work against Fraud; External Crime and Violent Crime Teams; Prohibited Mailing Investigations; Aviation and Homeland Security; Revenue Investigations; International Investigations and Global Security; and Joint Task Force Investigations.

Playing a major role in the identification, apprehension, and conviction of suspects for crimes against the Postal Service, the USPIS has a National Forensic Laboratory that hires more than 60 highly-trained forensic scientists. The laboratory gives technical support in the following crucial areas: Fingerprint and Automated Fingerprint; Identification System; Questioned Documents and Imaging; Physical Sciences; and Digital Evidence. These technologies have helped identify 443 subjects in 2011 alone. Forensic experts have also testified in court proceedings.

The US Postal Inspection Service also has a Security Force staffed by Postal Police officers. Known as the Postal Police, these uniformed officers also protect U.S. Mail and postal workers especially in critical postal facilities. They deter crime in postal facilities located in high-crime areas and also respond to emergencies that threaten the safety of postal employees and clients. These include disturbances, assaults, theft, and robberies, among others. They can also make arrests. As special police officers, the Postal Police can carry agency-issued shotguns and sidearms.

Before Postal Inspectors and the Postal Police are assigned to their posts, they must first train with the USPS law enforcement academy in Potomac, Maryland. It is known as the Career Development Unit and is federally accredited by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation. If you want to learn more about the United States Postal Inspection Service, you can visit their website at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/.

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