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A drama playing out at the Ashburn Post Office on the Southwest Side shows how rules can get in the way of common sense.

Pam Perkins is a letter carrier and union representative. After she broke up with a boyfriend in 2014, she had to get an emergency restraining order.

“I moved in with my children, and he broke into their apartment. I had a birthday graduation party for my daughter at a friend’s house, and he busted out windows. He took a stolen truck and smashed up my Jeep, and then set my rental car on fire,” Perkins told me.

“I would go to the police station and they would tell me to go to another police station. It was just like running around in circles,” she said.

“I even called the postal police and they said they didn’t have the manpower to sit and watch me, but if he touched the mail to give them a call.”

OPINION


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She eventually fled to Indiana, where she was able to get a restraining order that banned the ex-boyfriend from following her anywhere in Chicago or in Indiana.

But as domestic violence tragedies have proven over and over again, an order of protection is only a piece of paper. Perkins also got a Taser.

“I never carried it on postal property. I did carry it when I was on my route because I saw him plenty of times. By the time I called police, he would speed off,” she told me.

Mark Reynolds, a spokesman for the U.S. Post Office’s Chicago District, declined to comment on Perkins’ case but pointed to a warning posted at all postal facilities: “No person while on Postal Service property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on Postal Service property, except for official purposes.”

Postal workers are allowed to carry pepper spray to protect themselves from dogs.

Both Perkins and Mack Julion, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, claim a manager — a woman — at the Ashburn Post Office was aware Perkins was carrying a Taser on her route.

“It is hard enough that we deal with this violence throughout the city. Your safety is compromised in situations like this,” Julion said.

But the situation became a lot more complicated last December when a supervisor accused Perkins of threatening her with the Taser during an altercation.

Perkins denied the allegation. But her manager, another female, told investigators she was unaware that Perkins carried a Taser on her route.

Perkins was sent home. On May 18, she was served with a “notice of removal.”

“I don’t believe she is going to lie about telling the manager that she had a Taser,” said Julion, who is fighting to get Perkins back on the job, and said he thinks she will prevail.

“We are not talking about a gun. We are talking about something that would at least give her an opportunity to protect herself.”

After all, if postal carriers can protect themselves from vicious dogs, they ought to be able to protect themselves from vicious humans.

Follow Mary Mitchell on Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST


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