CHICAGO (CBS) — Letter carriers in Chicago and elsewhere have asked the U.S. Postal Service to make some safety changes to get them off the streets before dark.

WBBM News’s Mike Krauser reports Chicago area letter carriers said assaults, robberies, and gunfire have them worried about safety at night.

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“In the past, they … letter carriers usually get a free pass. We don’t feel that security with the uniform that we used to,” said Mack Julion, president of the Chicago branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Julion said a combination of earlier darkness and later starts – because of slower processing due to facility consolidations – means carriers are on the streets well after dark.

“There were several carriers still on the street after 10 o’clock (on Monday),” Julion said. “The Postal Service is saying that these routes are designed to have you off at 5 o’clock. Those are the exceptions, not the rule.”

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The Postal Service said most of the incidents have occurred between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but Julion said times have changed, and the possibility of violence has become “part of their regular day” for letter carriers.

“A carrier the other day told me about being caught in gunfire. She says she got on the ground, and by the time she got up, the police was there,” Julion said.

He said it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens to a postal worker on his or her route.

Julian said postal workers could quit earlier, however “there is an expectation when we leave the office that we come back with no mail,” he said.

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He also said there’s a sense of pride for mail carriers, who want to get the job done every day.