- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

NEW ORLEANS — Nearly three years have passed since the D.C.-area sniper shootings, but the police chief who pursued the snipers until their capture is still a well-recognized personality — even in the face of disaster.

“Hey, it’s the sniper guy,” is a common remark, no matter where former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose goes on duty in this city as an Air National Guard officer.

Maj. Moose said yesterday he has a clearly defined role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — organize the Guard’s security response in New Orleans.

His office is in the main emergency-operation center, now in City Hall and on the edge of the floodwater that killed many and destroyed the homes of many more.

The center buzzes with guardsmen and police officers from across the country coming in to get their orders.

Maj. Moose said the pressure he faces in Operation Katrina is far different from what he dealt with when pursuing the two snipers.

Though other police officers also worked hard to solve the case, it was Chief Moose, as he was know at the time, who communicated with the snipers, made a public plea for them to contact him and at times cried on TV as he updated frightened residents nightly for three weeks.

“Nobody’s looking to me to solve this, this time around,” he said yesterday. “I am just here to support other people. But I do have empathy for those who are in charge. It is so difficult. You really hope people have that perspective.”

Maj. Moose works directly under Col. Allen Bentley, an Oklahoma National Guardsman who drove to Louisiana on Sept. 1 to take command of security forces.

“I cannot recall when 40,000 or more National Guardsmen have occupied an area doing things that I did not think we’d be called to do in the 21st century,” Col. Bentley said. “This is much bigger than anything I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime.”

Part of the National Guard’s duty as a security force is to patrol the streets and enforce a 6 p.m. curfew.

Those detained are taken to a temporary jail in a Greyhound station about four blocks from City Hall.

About 60 people were being held in the jail as of yesterday morning, said Kristen Widmer, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.

“We’ve got all manner of people here,” she said. “There are some looters, people who committed battery, that sort of thing.”

Maj. Moose is living on the Belle Chase Naval Air Base, where most of the D.C. National Guard is quartered. More than 300 area guardsmen are in the area, with more possibly on the way, officials said.

However, many here are still waiting for equipment from Andrews Air Force Base and can do little more than hang around until it arrives.

“Why are we just sitting around?” asked Spc. Leo Fuentes, 21. “Why can’t we get out there? I came down here to help, not to sit around drinking water and watching the sky.”

Maj. Moose said every unit will be put to use in due time.

“We cannot get people contributing to the problem,” he said. “In a few weeks, all of the military police officers will be complaining about boredom because there won’t be anything left that needs guarding. That’s just how the process works.”

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