- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 21, 2003

Local police departments — several with new leaders — are facing an increase in violent crime amid heightened security concerns.

Montgomery County has been in the market for a new police chief since Chief Charles A. Moose submitted his resignation on Monday — and Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey already has been suggested as a replacement.

Chief Moose, who earns $160,000 a year as head of the county’s 1,040-member police department, quit over a dispute with the county ethics commission over his plans to write a book dealing in part with October’s sniper investigation. He had received national and international attention as the public face of the multijurisdictional sniper hunt.

But his record as police chief for all but those three weeks in October may belie the impression of efficiency he created during the investigation. Every category of major crimes — murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft — increased during Chief Moose’s four-year tenure.

Chief Moose was sworn in June 1999. That year, 13 homicides occurred in Montgomery County. Killings increased to 32 last year, the most slayings since 1994, when 38 persons were killed. Six of last year’s slayings resulted from the sniper attacks, and police closed the other 26 homicide cases.

Rapes increased from 122 in 1999 to 138 last year, aggravated assaults from 770 to 878, and robberies from 654 to 877. Auto thefts increased from 2,516 in 1999 to 3,722 last year.

Before the sniper investigation, Chief Moose had kept a low profile as he guided the police force through a Justice Department investigation into racial profiling by officers during traffic stops.

He was in charge of the investigation into the killing of Monsignor Thomas Wells, who was found beaten to death in the rectory of his Germantown church in June 2000, and the investigation into the January 2001 slaying of Sue Wen Stottmeister, a mother of two who was beaten and strangled in Rock Creek Park near Aspen Hill. Police solved both cases.

Acting Chief William O’Toole, who has been running the department since Chief Moose was called to active duty in March with the D.C. Air National Guard, will continue to run the department until a successor is named. Chief Moose’s resignation becomes effective Saturday.

Meanwhile in Prince George’s County, police Chief Melvin C. High recently announced a 30-day initiative to stabilize crime by assigning teams of officers to 11 “hot spots” for overnight patrols on weekends. After 30 days, the results will be evaluated to see if the county is ready to implement his long-term community policing strategy, he said.

Chief High, who earns $150,000 a year, only recently assumed command of a 1,430-member police department beset by accusations of police brutality, including two cases being investigated by the Justice Department.

Sworn in May 1, Chief High was chosen by County Executive Jack B. Johnson, whom county police criticized during his two terms as state’s attorney for what they called his overzealous pursuit of police misconduct cases.

Prince George’s County police were unable to provide complete crime statistics for 2002, but the county finished the year with 137 homicides — a 17 percent increase from the 2001 tally of 117 killings.

In Arlington County, police recorded slight increases in violent crimes last year and logged five homicides among the county’s 190,400 residents.

County officials in April swore in police Chief M. Douglas Scott, who earns $121,001 to lead the department’s 362 officers and 130 civilians.

In Fairfax County, violent crime increased in three of four categories last year, but has remained relatively stable since 1998, the year before Chief J. Thomas Manger took charge of the county police force.

Murders rose from 13 in 1998 to 16 last year, but rapes declined during the same period, from 95 to 84. Robberies were up from 382 to 504, but aggravated assaults fell slightly, from 371 to 357.

Chief Manger, who earns $110,000 a year, was drawn into October’s sniper investigation after the shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church. He has led the county police department’s 1,250 officers and more than 500 civilians since January 1999.

Alexandria is the only local jurisdiction that reported a significant reduction in crime last year. The city’s two homicides, 20 rapes and 186 aggravated assaults were all down from 2001. The only category of violent crime to rise in the city was robbery, which went up from 171 in 2001 to 200 last year.

Chief Charles Samarra has run the city police department of 296 officers and 132 civilians since July 1990 and earns $125,520 a year.

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