My famous local police chief, Charles "Still waiting for the
white van" Moose, seems to have little time to take care of business here at
Montgomery County, Md.'s top cop is busy slapping together a
tell-all book, polishing off a movie deal, and preaching his purported
"crisis management" wisdom abroad.
Moose's highly sought-after wisdom is, of course, derived from
his gross bungling of last fall's sniper attacks by accused killers John
Muhammad and Lee Malvo. But never mind his Keystone Cop hunt for the wrong
vehicle while the snipers' Chevy Caprice (spotted by several witnesses and
stopped at least 10 times for license plate checks during the shooting
spree) got away. Pay no heed to his oversight of nonsensical roadblocks,
botched hotline operations, and the deadly politically correct assumption
that the snipers were crazed white militants in a non-existent white box
Yes, despite these fatal missteps, gushing and gullible
audiences outside Maryland are warmly welcoming Chief Moose as a spotless
role model. A local ethics investigation into his side efforts to capitalize
on the brutal slayings, such as the for-profit crisis management and
conflict resolution consulting firm he formed with his wife just six weeks
after the "Beltway" sniper saga ended, will likely do little to slow the
jet-setting Moose's pace.
Why any group would want to host or hire Chief Moose as an
exemplar of effective, responsible public leadership is beyond me.
This six-figure-salaried public servant refuses to disclose the
amount of his book advance from Dutton Books. He remains similarly
tight-lipped as county ethics authorities mull this week whether he and his
wife are "intentionally (using) the prestige of office for private gain." He
dismisses criticism of his judgment as "attacks."
Chief Moose's office told me this week that he has not yet
accepted any honoraria for his sniper-related speaking engagements. But by
his own admission, Moose has already broken clear county government rules
requiring him to have gotten permission to pursue the book deal and other
off-duty, paid endeavors. He claims he and his wife "haven't made a single
penny" from the private consulting venture. But he remains defiantly
"hopeful" that he will start turning a profit while keeping his day job.
Moose doesn't make his travel schedule available to the public
on the county police department Web site. But my research shows that he is
apparently already racking up some major frequent flyer points, room
service, and invaluable pre-book publication schmooze time, as an anointed
Leader in Times of Crisis.
In December, Moose was scheduled as the featured guru at an
advanced professionals seminar in Braintree, Mass., where attendees learned
how Moose "coordinated one of the biggest manhunts in history." In March,
he'll do breakfast with the Virginia Press Association in Norfolk. In April,
he's headed to San Francisco to address the National School Board
Association for a talk on developing "effective crisis response plans" as
demonstrated by his leadership in capturing the snipers.
He'll take the same message to Los Angeles that month, at the
annual leadership development conference of the National Center for Women
and Policing. In May, he'll be the special keynote speaker at a Toronto
Crimestoppers convention. The group says that "Chief Moose's skillful
management of the Washington sniper events" will make his presentation
"particularly meaningful and relevant." In June, he's trekking to Winnipeg,
Canada, for the International Police Association's "Aboriginal and Diversity
Law Enforcement conference."
Chief Moose was closer to home this week for his regular
appearance on a softball Beltway radio show called "Ask the Chief." It was a
typical exercise in evasion and idolatry. The fawning host apologized for
raising questions about the ethics investigation and concluded the interview
with a giggly query about which actor would be playing Moose in the sniper
Moose wouldn't respond to that question either. Seems there will
only be three ways to get any straight answers from the book-writing,
movie-making, speech-peddling Moose about his ethical lapses and management
bungles: cash, check or credit card.