- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose filed a federal lawsuit against the county yesterday for stopping him from writing a book or consulting on a movie about the sniper investigation in the fall.

The county ethics committee ruled in March that Chief Moose would violate county law by publishing a book and consulting on a movie about the three-week manhunt.

Chief Moose led a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in trying to stop the random sniper shootings in October.

He became famous for his frequent and occasionally effusive news media briefings in which he tried to calm a frightened public and reason with the snipers.

Chief Moose declined interviews yesterday, despite nearly 50 requests from local, national and international news agencies. County officials also withheld comment yesterday.

This is the first time that an employee has sued over a decision based on the ethics law, said Donna Bigle, county spokeswoman.

The ethics code prohibits a county employee from using “the prestige of office for private gain.”

The five-member committee also ruled that a book by Chief Moose could compromise the prosecution of sniper suspects Lee Boyd Malvo, 18, and John Allen Muhammad, 42.

The two have been linked to 20 shootings, 13 of them fatal, in the District, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Louisiana. They were arrested Oct. 24 and await capital murder charges in Virginia.

Chief Moose signed a deal in January with New York publisher Dutton Publishing Inc. to write a book titled “Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the D.C. Sniper.” The book is scheduled to be released this fall.

When county officials questioned the deal a few months later, the chief hired attorney Ronald Karp, who sent committee members a letter March 10 that stated: “There are some serious constitutional issues involved in telling people they can’t write books.”

Within weeks, the commission ruled against Chief Moose, who continued to work on the book despite the ruling. It is reported that he has finished more than seven chapters.

He also has sold the movie rights to a production company, and he and his wife, Sandy, have started a crisis-management consulting company.

Employees in the county police department, including uniformed officers, say Chief Moose should not write the book while employed aschief, sources have told The Washington Times.

Meanwhile, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has supported Chief Moose’s attempts to profit from telling the sniper tale.

“The chief’s story of that experience, as well as his life’s work in law enforcement, is a compelling one, and I continue to feel strongly that he should have the opportunity to tell it,” he said in March. “It is my full hope and expectation that a person with such a fascinating story to tell will be allowed to do just that.”

Chief Moose has been on leave from the county since March 18 because he was called to active duty in the D.C. Air National Guard. He is a major at Andrews Air Force Base and commander of the 113th Security Forces Squadron. Some members of the 113th are deployed to classified locations overseas, according to a National Guard spokesman.

Assistant Chief William O’Toole is now acting chief for Montgomery County.

Chief Moose has had a contentious and mercurial career before coming to the county. While working as a chief in Portland, Ore., he was disciplined four times from 1975 to 1999 and sent to counseling for outbursts at people he thought were discriminating against him, the Portland Oregonian newspaper reported in July 1999.

“He has a temper that when it rolls, it really rolls,” Lt. Bob Baxter, who worked with Chief Moose in Portland, told The Washington Post in 1999.

However, he was lauded there for achievements in community policing, and for honesty, and openness to the public, as well as the ability to get things done.

Chief Moose, who has a degree in U.S. history from the University of North Carolina, left Portland in 1999 for Montgomery County. He started here with an annual salary of $125,000 and now makes $169,619.


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