Postal system steps up training on packages

Austin bombings increase precautions

Although the man suspected of sending exploding packages in Austin, Texas, is dead, the U.S. Postal System has stepped up training by reminding local post office workers how to identify suspicious packages.

In Luling, Postmaster Danny Vizzini said they get daily talks about the importance of staying focused on safety.

“We’re given safety talks and making sure all our employees are cautious with anything that looks suspicious,” Vizzini said.

Last Thursday alone, 1,210 packages came through the Luling post office, a number that Vizzini said can double or triple in the Christmas season.

In his 33 years with the system, he has not encountered a suspicious package yet. But Vizzini added it’s likely because postal inspectors check the packages at mail distribution centers such as those in New Orleans before they come to the post offices, and local employees still know what they look like because they are provided photographs of them.

Also, a package doesn’t randomly come into the postal system either.

Vizzini said packages are tracked from when they arrive until they are delivered.

“We try to be careful with how employees take packages from customers and are watchful of each and every item,” he said.

Boutte Postmaster Vivian Pitre agreed their efforts are constant toward maintaining safety for both employees and customers.

The Texas mail bombings have raised concerns about packages and safety, particularly when it was discovered the explosives were hidden inside packages.

An intensely focused safety regimen ensures both customers and postal employees are safer, Pitre said.

“We always did have to be on alert on anything,” she said. “We are 100 percent on it already.”

Pitre said one of their major tools against dangerous packages is employee training.

“We have to know what to do if we do get suspicious mail,” she said. “There are safety things we have to watch for.”

The bottom line, Pitre said, is they have a plan to ensure no employee is near a suspicious package or one reaches a customer.

As indicated by the postmasters, the Postal Service’s security plan calls for specialized technology, screening and employee training. The Postal Inspection Service has organized response teams to investigate suspicious parcels through its Dangerous Mail Investigation Program.

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