- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

Well-wishers from around the country sent a steady stream of balloons, cookies, cakes and flowers to the office of Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose yesterday just to say "thank you."
"It looks like a botanical garden in there," said Montgomery County Police Officer Louise Marthens after a visit to the chief's office.
Delivery carriers, often arriving within five minutes of each other, brought tokens of thanks and congratulations to Chief Moose, the public face of the sniper investigation that resulted in the arrests of two suspects Thursday in the string of fatal shootings in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Perhaps the most grand statement of gratitude was made on the Capital Beltway, where a banner was hung from an overpass between the Connecticut and Georgia avenue exits that read "Thanks Moose."
Just 24 days ago, Chief Moose was the low-profile, behind-the-scenes administrator of a suburban police department that typically has fewer homicide victims than pedestrians killed in crosswalk accidents. Now he's recognizable worldwide after weeks of televised briefings.
Out of the public eye for the first time in weeks yesterday, the plain-spoken, stoop-shouldered Chief Moose attempted to "return to his normal activities," a police spokeswoman said.
But outside the tinted windows of his second-floor Rockville office, two U.S. senators, two governors, a mayor and an assortment of county officials took turns heaping praise upon the chief and other law enforcement authorities who closed the case.
"He pulled things together in a way that was extraordinary," said Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who was joined by Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Maryland's U.S. Sens., Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who also attended the event, could be seen inside police headquarters prior to the official announcement of the arrests Thursday night, embracing the chief he recruited from Portland, Ore., in 1999.
Thursday, after three weeks of parrying reporters' questions by saying that his comments on the investigation would be "inappropriate," Chief Moose, 49, offered an olive branch to reporters.
"Although there remains competition among all of the various people in the media, we've also made great note of the restraint, the cooperation, the willingness on your part to withhold information for fear that it would somehow jeopardize this investigation," Chief Moose said. "Your professional ethics are indeed commended in this matter."
Reporters gathered for the news conference responded with applause as Chief Moose strode back inside headquarters, an unexpected response from reporters who weeks earlier had been berated by the chief.
An admittedly emotional man, one of the lasting images of the sniper drama occurred Oct. 7, when Chief Moose declared with tears streaming from his eyes that the shooting of a child had made the investigation "personal."
Two days later, after admonishing reporters for leaking the contents of a tarot card message found at the scene of a sniper shooting Oct. 7, reports resurfaced that Chief Moose had been disciplined in four cases and sent to counseling as a result of his temper.
In 1998, he similarly berated reporters in Portland for broadcasting live aerial video of tactical units converging on a gun-toting criminal who had barricaded himself in a home.
"You put our officers in danger and continued to do that," a livid Chief Moose said then.
But respect for the police chief, who for most of his 3-year-old tenure here has maintained a low profile even within his own county, didn't just come from the politicians and the reporters yesterday.
Cpl. Terry Gloucester, an 18-year Montgomery County police officer who works at headquarters, said messages from the public began arriving a week ago but peaked yesterday.
"Throughout the day, there's been an outpouring of gratitude, not only from around this county, but also across the country," Cpl. Gloucester said. He said most of the calls and messages simply say, "'Tell Chief Moose thank you'"
Chief Moose, who for much of the investigation spoke more of the efforts of his officers and support staff right down to the building janitors who worked overtime with police distributed the flowers to secretaries and county employees.
"We're just proud to call Chief Charles Moose our leader," Cpl. Gloucester said.
Kathy Hartley of Gaithersburg brought her second-grade daughter, Jeni, to police headquarters to say "thanks" in person.
"I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for them," Mrs. Hartley said of police. "I'm glad the community is showing support."
Two weeks ago, Jeni signed a banner from Brownie Troop 360 in Gaithersburg that hung near the front door outside police headquarters. The banner read "Thank you for keeping us safe."
Over her name Jeni had scrawled, "We like you."
Chief Moose, 49, spent six years as Portland's police chief after spending 24 years as an officer in the Portland police department. He worked his way through the ranks while earning a master's degree in public adminstration and a doctorate in urban studies from Portland State University.
He was one of eight finalists for the job of D.C. police chief in 1998, and a year later he took over a Montgomery force embroiled in a dispute with the local NAACP chapter over accusations of incidents of racial profiling.
Chief Moose also served as a major in the Oregon Air National Guard, just miles from where one of the sniper suspects was stationed in the Oregon Army National Guard.
Jon Ward contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide