On the Scene at MTAC: postal inspection update

Washington–Since the first anthrax case occurred in early October, more than 1,600 other cases of suspicious mail have been called in to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said Jim Rowan, the Inspection Service’s chief inspector for security and technology, during the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings on Feb. 6. There have also been 569 evacuations of postal facilities since that time, 72 hoaxes, and 11 convictions of those hoaxes, said Rowan, who happened to start the job on Sept. 11.

As for the Inspection Service’s efforts, “We can’t eliminate risk in the mail, because we can’t guarantee the threat will never again occur,” Rowan said. “But we can assess the threat level and minimize the risk.”

In conjunction with vice president of engineering Tom Day, whose unit in the Postal Service has irradiated government mail, the Inspection Service has been building a program to continue reducing the risk to postal employees and consumers. The Inspection Service has also been focusing closely on the safety of postal vehicles and in policing access to postal facilities.

“We’re educating customers on steps you can take with your own businesses,” Rowan said. “We’re reviewing potential mailer initiatives with [saturation mailer] Advo and will have our task force work with mailers, and would like mailer feedback. I’d like to come up with a process to minimize the risk on both ends.”

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