As a resident of Montgomery County, Md., home of celebrity police chief Charles A. Moose, I would like the rest of the nation to know what a growing number of Moose's own employees and constituents think about him:
He is an outlaw opportunist.
He is an ineffective, absent leader.
He is a money-grubbing menace who has put his personal ambition over public safety.
Moose, who was ubiquitous during last fall's Beltway sniper investigation, is nowhere to be seen in our neighborhoods these days. He has supposedly been on active duty for the Air National Guard, "helping his air guard unit develop an anti-terrorism force protection plan," according to The Washington Post.
When he's not avoiding phone calls about whether he ever plans to return to his old job, he's traveling across the country giving supposedly expert speeches about leadership and crisis management. Meanwhile, morale among his rank-and-file officers has plunged. One veteran Montgomery County cop told me this week: "The chief is snubbing his nose at us. All he cares about is money. What kind of leader is that?"
A quick visit to Amazon.com reveals what Moose has really been up to while out of the office. Instead of fighting crime and protecting his local community, as his $160,000 government salary requires him to do, Moose has been readying the fall launch of a book capitalizing on his fame. Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper, published by New York-based Dutton, features a huge cover photo of Moose wearing his prominently placed, shiny police badge.
Moose and his publisher have put the book up for pre-order sales in defiance of a local county ethics commission ruling earlier this spring that barred him from writing the book. The panel concluded that longstanding ethics regulations -- regulations he agreed to abide by when he was hired -- prevented him from profiting from his job as police chief. The ethics watchdogs also suggested he would reveal confidential information to titillate readers.