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How USPS Identifies Suspicious Packages

When it comes to the discovery of explosive devices sent through the mail, USPS is the first line of defense and is a critical component in the nation’s security infrastructure.

With its expansive reach and robust screening procedures, USPS plays a pivotal role in identifying and neutralizing potential threats within the mail system.

The USPS “Harmful Package” Screening Process

USPS dedicates substantial resources to maintaining the security of the mail system.

With an annual expenditure of over $100 million, the agency ensures comprehensive screening of all first-class mail exchanged between households in the U.S. and parcels destined for federal agencies.

This investment underscores USPS’s commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the postal network.

1. Leveraging Advanced Technology

packages being x-rayed

At the heart of USPS’s security measures are advanced screening technologies, including sophisticated X-ray machines capable of detecting concealed threats.

These machines serve as a frontline defense, enabling USPS agents to identify suspicious items such as bomb casings and explosives.

Moreover, USPS personnel are trained to recognize key indicators of potential danger, such as irregular shapes and excessive postage, further enhancing the effectiveness of the screening process.

The below image is an example of the USPS guidelines for spotting suspicious mail items and packages.

usps suspicious mail guidelines

2. Enhanced Security Protocols for Federal Mail

Federal mail undergoes an additional layer of scrutiny to ensure the utmost security.

In cases where situations become more complex, the Dangerous Mail Investigations Program comes into play.

This program employs a “multi-tiered field-screening” approach to identify mail as non-hazardous.

Postal Inspectors rely on advanced technology to assist in their duties, including using portable X-ray machines and Biological Detection Systems (BDS).

Biohazard Detection System (BDS)

The BDS serves as an early-warning system capable of detecting hazardous biological substances.

Additionally, a specialized team of Postal Inspectors undergoes training as Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Specialists.

This team is tasked with responding to situations and developing protocols if the BDS detects a dangerous substance.

Remarkably, out of 7 million tests conducted, such an event has yet to occur.

This stringent protocol highlights USPS’s commitment to protecting sensitive government communications and materials.

The Impact of USPS’s Vigilance

USPS screening techniques

Despite processing a staggering 170 billion pieces of mail annually, USPS maintains an impressive track record in detecting and addressing suspicious packages.

According to the Postal Inspection Service, only an average of 16 pieces of mail are investigated as potential threats each year, underscoring the effectiveness of USPS’s security protocols.

Recent Developments and Ongoing Investigations

Recent incidents, including the discovery of explosive devices addressed to public figures, have prompted heightened scrutiny of the USPS’s role in identifying suspicious packages.

While the FBI has initiated investigations into these occurrences, USPS’s contribution to the efforts cannot be overstated.

The agency’s cooperation and expertise are invaluable in uncovering the origins and intentions behind such threats.

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