Charles A. Moose, former police chief of Montgomery County, Md., this week releases “Three Weeks in October,” his book centered on last year’s sniper case. The Washington Post says that among its revelations are these: “how Moose agonized over relinquishing control of the case to federal investigators, how he fumed when key evidence was leaked to the news media, and how his spirits sank when he sat down with the families of shooting victims…the day the sniper suspects were arrested.” Moose wrote: “It was very real for me, seeing the pain these families felt, feeling the loss they had experienced. It also made it impossible, somehow, for me to feel any jubilation about solving the crime.”
Moose resigned in June rather than fight a charge by the county’s ethics commission that he was wrongly using his office for personal gain by writing the book. He blamed The Washington Post for “making a campaign” of the issue, contending that The Post acted to clear the way for its own book about the sniper case.
Jo-Ann Armao, The Post’s assistant managing editor for metropolitan news, said: “Montgomery County’s ruling that Chief Moose violated the county’s code of ethics — a decision that led to the chief’s resignation — was a matter of great public interest. The Washington Post, in covering this case, was careful to disclose that reporters for The Post were writing a book on the sniper case.”
Moose said he used daily news releases about steps the police were taking to gain favorable media coverage. He says “the media depicted the investigative team as a bunch of bumbling flatfoots.” Describing his criticism of The Post and WUSA-TV (Channel 9) for releasing details about the case’s first crucial piece of hard evidence: a tarot card left at the scene of a shooting, he wrote, “I raised my voice. I lost my temper. I said things that I had always wanted to say to the media, to tell the truth. Because when the media acts like that, I don’t like the media.” Moose “is absolutely certain” that the leak about the tarot card, and the publicity that followed, “was a contributing factor in the five shootings that were still to come.”
Moose said he has been approached twice about heading up big-city police departments.