- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan yesterday announced that he had accepted the resignation of Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who has been in a dispute with county ethics officials over a book he plans to write detailing October’s sniper attacks.

Chief Moose gained nationwide recognition as the public face of a multijurisdictional task force that investigated the series of sniper shootings in Maryland, Virginia and the District in October.

“Effective June 28, 2003, I shall resign as Montgomery County police chief. It has been an honor and privilege to work for and with you in this beautiful county. I wish only the best for you and all the women and the men of the Montgomery County Police Department,” Chief Moose said in his brief letter of resignation dated June 16 and addressed to Mr. Duncan.

The chief came under fire in January after signing a six-figure deal with E.P. Dutton to write a book and consult on a movie project about the sniper investigation and the capture of sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Mr. Muhammad, 43, and Mr. Malvo, 18, await separate trials on capital murder charges in Virginia.

The county’s ethics commission ruled on March 31 that Chief Moose could not accept the book and movie deals, which violate county policy because he would be profiting from his position as police chief and could jeopardize upcoming criminal trials.

Chief Moose, 49, has appealed the ethics board’s decision and filed a federal lawsuit saying the ruling violated his First Amendment rights to free speech. He did not reference the ongoing dispute in his letter of resignation.

The book, “Three Weeks in October,” is expected to be released in October. It has been posted for pre-orders at Amazon.com. The book, slated for 336 pages, has a list price of $23.95.

Mr. Duncan, who has supported Chief Moose’s efforts to write the book, learned of the chief’s plans to resign while the two had dinner together Monday night at an Italian restaurant in Rockville.

Mr. Duncan said Chief Moose called him late last week to set up a meeting.

He said he knew from the call that Chief Moose had reached a decision, but that he was “sad and disappointed” when he heard the chief’s choice.

“Until Monday night, I thought Chief Moose was going to be the police chief here for a long time,” Mr. Duncan told reporters yesterday. “I accepted his decision with a lot of sadness and regret. After the conversation, we both said it was the right thing to do.”

Mr. Duncan said it was his understanding from Chief Moose that the resignation was a direct result of the county Ethics Commission’s decision.

“He thought it really came down to one or the other,” Mr. Duncan said.

Peter Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro, attorneys for Mr. Muhammad, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the chief’s decision to go forward with the book.

“A police chief, of all people, should understand how the justice system is harmed by revealing sensitive and inside information to the jury pool on the eve of trial in a case as public as this. Certainly Mr. Moose knows that the publishers commercial interest in selling the book just before trial can only put the goal of a fair judicial process in jeopardy. We expected more out of a chief law enforcement officer. Unfortunately, other interests than assuring a fair trial, which is all we seek, have won out.”

Chief Moose, who joined the Montgomery County Police Department in 1999 after 24 years with the Portland, Ore., police department has been on leave since March 18 and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

A major in the D.C. Air National Guard, Chief Moose remains on active duty at Andrews Air Force Base as commander of the 60-member security forces squadron attached to the 113th Fighter Wing, whose F-16s protect airspace over the White House, Capitol and Pentagon. He doesn’t expect to be discharged before June 28.

Mr. Duncan said Monday’s meeting was the first time he had seen Chief Moose since the police chief was called to active duty. The county executive appointed Assistant Chief William O’Toole the acting police chief of the 1,020-member force on Chief Moose’s recommendation. Chief O’Toole commanded the department’s field services bureau, which oversees officers on the streets.

Mr. Duncan praised Chief Moose for providing effective leadership for the department during a Justice Department investigation into racial profiling, for upgrading the department’s technology and lobbying for higher salaries for officers.

Mr. Duncan said he plans to conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief, but that Chief O’Toole would be considered for the job.

Mr. Duncan said he has not given any consideration to Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who has said he might leave the District if the City Council does not approve a $25,000 pay raise.

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