United States Postal Inspection Service

The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), or the Postal Inspectors, is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. It supports and protects the U.S. Postal Service, its employees, infrastructure, and customers by enforcing the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use. Its jurisdiction covers any "crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system or postal employees." With roots going back to the late 18th century, the USPIS is the oldest continually operating federal law enforcement agency.[1]

United States Postal Inspection Service
Patch of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Postal Police Uniformed Division
USPIS logo
Badge of a Postal Inspector
Common namePostal Inspection Service
Agency overview
Formed1775 (surveyors)
1801 (special agents)
1830 (agency)
1880 (post-office inspectors)
1954 (postal inspectors)
Employees2,500 (approx)
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agencyUnited States
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction
  • Property, personnel, and-or postal items of a postal service.
Operational structure
Headquarters475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, D.C.
Postal Inspectors1,200 (approx)
Agency executive
  • Gary Barksdale, Chief Postal Inspector
Parent agencyUnited States Postal Service

As roughly 200 federal crimes relate to mail, the Postal Inspectors' activities are markedly broad and ever-changing.[2] In 2019, it made 5,759 arrests leading to nearly 5,000 convictions, mostly involving mail theft, mail fraud or contraband mailings. The growth in narcotics trading has resulted in 19,000 arrests and the seizure of $18 million in drug proceeds since 2010.

In 2008, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service had 2,288 full-time personnel with the authority to make arrests and carry firearms on duty. This represented a 23.1% drop over the previous five years.[3] In fiscal year 2014, USPIS had 2,376 field employees, a decline of 44.7% from fiscal year 1995.[4] As of 2019, there are about 1,200 postal inspectors, who are authorized to carry weapons, make arrests, execute federal search warrants, and serve subpoenas.[1]