Behind the Badge Press Materials

06.27.2014
Press Kit

Related Exhibition

June 27, 2014 - Indefinitely

Behind the Badge explores the mission and duty of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service. The exhibit examines the inspection service’s history and work through some of its most famous and remarkable cases. Visitors learn how the service helps protect them, sharing tips to guard against scams and fraud.

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U.S. Postal Inspection Service badge
U.S. Postal Inspection Service badge

This gold-plated badge is issued to United States Postal Inspectors. These men and women are the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. For over 200 years inspectors and their predecessors have protected the mail, the nation’s post offices, and postal employees. Inspectors are on the ground and on the job, from restoring postal service after a disaster to capturing drug traffickers and mail thieves. Postal Inspectors are also committed to protecting consumers from mail fraud and ensuring confidence in America's postal system.

Courtesy U.S. Postal Inspection Service

postal collection with a lot of dust on the surfaces
Collection box from 2001 anthrax attacks

Only a month after the nation suffered the 9/11 attacks in 2001 it faced a new danger in the form of anthrax-laced letters mailed to members of Congress and the national media. Those letters were deposited in this Princeton, New Jersey, collection box. Visitors will notice that the box retains a dusty coating resulting from the decontamination process.

Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

US flag folded in a triangle shape
U.S. flag faded from anthrax decontamination treatment

This flag was retrieved from the Washington, D.C. postal facility through which some of the anthrax-laced letters passed on their way to their victims. Among those killed in the 2001 anthrax terror attacks were two postal clerks, Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr., who worked at the facility. The building was renamed the Curseen-Morris Mail Processing and Distribution Center in their honor. The chlorine dioxide used to decontaminate the facility caused the discoloration on the flag.

Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

Handcuffs used during arrest of Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski
Handcuffs used during arrest of Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski

These are the handcuffs that bound one of the nation’s most wanted criminals. They were snapped on Ted Kaczynski as he was brought out of his Montana hideout on April 3, 1996. Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, had terrorized the nation since 1978 with a series of mail bombs sent to seemingly random individuals. The handcuffs were presented to Postal inspector Anthony Muljat in recognition of his work on the case.

Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

two Postal Inspectors holding large guns and wearing badges
U.S. postal inspectors on protection duty

Postal Inspectors Stephaine Harden and Ron Corley are only two of the 1,400 inspectors devoted to protecting the mail’s most valuable and sensitive shipments. Rare gems and gold are only some of the valuables that make their way through the U.S. mail on any given day. This photograph, taken in Houston, Texas in 2013, shows the pair poised and ready for action.

Photo by Postal Inspector Allen McHenry

a postal inspector looking through binaculars
U.S. postal inspector conducts an investigation

As any crime fighter knows, criminals do not just fall into a detective’s lap. Finding perpetrators, and proving their guilt, can be a long and arduous process. This is no less true for postal inspectors who must gather enough evidence for a successful prosecution. Inspector Chuck Kelley, shown here, is one of many inspectors who have put in long hours building a case against a suspect.

Photo by Postal Inspector Allen McHenry

two postal inspectors gathering evidence at a crime scene
U.S. postal inspectors gather evidence at a crime scene

Crime scenes can be complex spaces where separating the clues from non-essential items is a well-honed skill. Among those who have the expertise to determine one from another are Postal Inspectors Brenda Redman (left) and Kelly Pacheco, shown here gathering and preserving prospective evidence at a crime scene in 2013.

Photo by Postal Inspector Allen McHenry

a Forensics Specialist analysis envelopes in a laboratory
Forensics analysis for U.S. Postal Inspection Service

As any devoted viewer of detective shows on television can tell you, sometimes the most important clues are the tiniest. Forensics Specialist Jennifer Jones is hard at work analyzing envelopes at the National Forensics Laboratory. A clue that can only be found with special lighting or through magnifying glasses might be the one that breaks a case wide open.

Courtesy U.S. Postal Inspection Service

two Postal Inspectors examin a damaged post office after a hurricane
U.S. postal inspectors survey a post office after Superstorm Sandy, 2012

When people hear the term “first responders,” they probably do not have postal inspectors in mind. They would be wrong. These men and women can be seen in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters securing the mail and working to restore the mail connection. The post-storm power outage following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 did not deter Postal Inspectors Mark Viggiano and Gregory Botti from examining the Sea Bright, New Jersey, Post Office.

Photo by Daniel Afzal, United States Postal Service

x-ray image of a mail bomb
"Behind the Badge" exhibition interactive features x-ray image of pipe bomb

Visitors to "Behind the Badge" will have the opportunity to try their hand at a variety of skills that are part of a postal inspector’s repertoire. This x-ray image is from one of a collection of hands-on interactives in the exhibition. Although mail bombs are an extremely rare event, postal inspectors are trained to distinguish safe packages from those that are potentially hazardous. In this case, the image reveals a shape, density, wiring, and switch that suspiciously look like a pipe bomb. Visitors get to determine if it is safe or dangerous. What choice would you make?

Courtesy U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Wanted poster for a mail train robbery
Wanted poster for 1923 mail train robbery

In 1923 brothers Hugh, Ray and Roy DeAutremont tried to rob a mail train. This wanted poster shows the train car after they destroyed it by using too much dynamite. The brothers killed four men during the robbery. The manhunt distributed wanted posters for the trio across the U.S. and even abroad. They were finally brought to justice in 1927.

Courtesy Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

Railway Mail Service clerks transfer a large shipment of gold while being watched by Postal Inspectors
U.S. postal inspectors protect gold shipment to Fort Knox, 1941

Who moved the gold to Fort Knox? If you said the Post Office Department, you would be right. Under the watchful security of the Postal Inspection Service, Railway Mail Service clerks transfer some of the $9 billion in gold bullion shipped as registered mail from the New York City Assay Office to the depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in 1941. The Postal Inspection Service provided security and management of in the cooperative effort between the Post Office Department, local law enforcement, U.S. Army, and U.S. Treasury Department.

Courtesy United States Postal Service

Mobile Command Unit Vehicle in the musuems atrium
Mobile Command Unit Vehicle and Exhibition Entrance

Visitors’ first encounter with the “Behind the Badge” exhibition is a dramatic scene dominated by a mobile command center vehicle. These high-tech vehicles are fully, self-contained units—with power supplies, communication equipment, emergency gear, and forensics lab materials—and can be easily dispatched as needed to locations anywhere in the United States.

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

U.S. Postal Inspection Service gallery infographic
U.S. Postal Inspection Service Infographic

The scope of the agency's mission encompasses the entire postal system and provides security for everyone's mail.

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

Interactives in the Many Skills, One Badge section of the gallery
Interactives in the “Many Skills, One Badge” Section

What does it take to be a postal inspector? Visitors can try their hand at a series of four interactives that highlight the skills that postal inspectors use to solve and prevent crimes: gather clues at a crime scene, match fingerprints, identify a suspect, and protect major event venues by screening mail for explosive, biological, chemical, and radiological agents.

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

vault door leading to the Mail Is Where the Money Is section
“Mail Is Where the Money Is” Section Entrance

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

Mail Is Where the Money Is gallery wall
“Mail Is Where the Money Is” Case Detail

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

Inspectors in the News gallery
“Inspectors in the News” Section Overview

“Help Keep the Mail Safe” is a multi-user touch table that challenges visitors to distinguish fraudulent or dangerous mail from safe pieces. These are 12 common mail pieces that visitors could encounter at home or at the office. Which one should you open? Which one might empty your bank account? You decide.

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

case with an anthrax letter, a collection mailbox, and a hazmat suit
2001 Anthrax Case

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

Disaster Response case with video and an artifact
Disaster Response Video and Artifact

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno

a fallen heroes memorial video that features biographies of the law enforcement officers of the United States Postal Inspection Service who gave their lives in the line of duty
Fallen Heroes Memorial

The end of the exhibition hosts a fallen heroes memorial video that features biographies of the law enforcement officers of the United States Postal Inspection Service who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Photo by Juan Carlos Briceno