Postal Service Hasn’t Even Called Family Whose Relative Was Killed By a USPS Driver
The United States Postal Service has not reached out to the grieving family of a Brooklyn man who was run down by one of the mail system’s truck drivers last week — prompting more calls for increased oversight of the unaccountable federal agency.
Charles McClean was killed on Macdougal Avenue in the Ocean Hill section of the borough on Friday, May 3, but one week later, his family hasn’t heard a thing from the USPS — nor from the NYPD, which hasn’t made an arrest even though the identity of the driver is known to them.
“Not even a call,” said Arkim McClean, the dead man’s brother. “And nothing on an arrest.”
The McClean family’s grieving is likely to lead to more pressure on the Postal Service to, at the very least, put license plates on their trucks so that they can be tracked for parking infractions and moving violations. Because the Postal Service is a federal agency, they are not subject to fines by local governments — but that doesn’t mean they can’t be monitored, suggested Council Member Keith Powers.
“The issue is simply there are so many vehicles out there breaking the rules,” said Powers, a Manhattan lawmaker who tangled with the USPS over parking issues in his district, and raised the issue again at an unrelated City Council hearing on April 29. (Video at 1:35:00).
“Why do they get to play by their own rules. The city’s view is they have to comply. They view it differently,” Powers added. “We are trying to fix issues such as reckless driving or parking and to have a government agency doing whatever it wants sends the wrong message. They should live like the rest of us. The government shouldn’t be doing what we tell everyone else not to do. It’s an obxious way to behave.”
In the wake of McClean’s death, family members said they wondered if there were other victims out there. Good luck finding out, the NYPD said.
“If there’s a crash involving a truck, we don’t designate whether it was a UPS truck, a Postal Service truck, a FedEx truck or Mr. Smith’s truck. It’s just truck,” an NYPD spokesman told Streetsblog. We got no further answer when asked if the agency has an official policy on handling the unique challenges of enforcement against the Postal Service.
But a traffic enforcement officer told Streetsblog that his commanding officer told him not to bother even writing tickets when he sees USPS trucks parked in bike lanes, parked illegally, blocking crosswalks or doing other dangerous things that New Yorkers see every day.
“They drive terribly,” the enforcement officer said. “I want to give them tickets, but they don’t have to pay them so my C.O. said it’s a waste of my time. He’s right, but it makes me feel like I’m not doing my job.”
But it must be someone’s job to oversee the Postal Service. Or maybe not. A spokeswoman for the Postal Service Inspector General said the oversight office does not monitor the Postal Service for driver safety records or summonses. A 2012 audit — the last of its kind — focused on whether supervisors in the agency’s 23 divisions “completed the required minimum [safety] observations” of drivers. None of the managers at the postal service regions did the minimum — and seven regions did not do any safety observations at all (the audit is redacted so it is impossible to know which regions had the worst records; Streetsblog has submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for the unredacted report).
The House Oversight Committee — whose portfolio does include the Postal Service — did not respond to requests for information about whether it examines USPS driving records.
Streetsblog asked the Postal Service for extensive information about its safety records, but for now, the agency could only say it is “cooperating with the NYPD investigation” of the death of Charles McClean, who was dragged by a Postal Service truck last Friday as he returned from a corner story, cops said. The preliminary investigation showed that the driver of the truck was looking left at oncoming traffic and inching up through the crosswalk. Once the traffic subsided, the driver started moving without looking. Had he looked, he would have seen McClean in front of his truck.
“We cannot say more because it is an ongoing investigation,” said USPS spokeswoman Maureen Marion.