Chief Moose steps down after dispute over sniper book deal
- The Montgomery County police chief who coordinated law enforcement efforts in the D.C. sniper investigation quits after the county barred him from cashing in on a book deal.
June 18, 2003 — Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose resigned today after disputes with county officials over a book he wrote about the investigation of the 2002 Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings.
Moose had claimed that the county’s ethics commission was violating his free-speech rights. But the commission argued that the Moose’s profiting from his job would undercut public trust in county government.
In January, Moose signed with Dutton Books to write his account of the sniper investigation, but his contract with the county required approval of the county’s ethics commission.
The ethics commission issued an opinion in March, saying Moose’s bid to make money off his job hurt the prestige of his position as police chief.
“The Commission’s opinion is supported by the federal government’s conclusion that it can prohibit its employees from accepting outside compensation for teaching, speaking, or writing that relates to an employee’s official duties, consistent with the First Amendment,” the commission wrote in its opinion. “The Commission’s conclusion that an employee violates the prohibition against the use of prestige of office for private gain by accepting remuneration for any service directly and immediately related to that employee’s governmental activities is likewise constitutional.”
Moose challenged the decision in county circuit court and filed a federal lawsuit claiming his free speech rights were being violated.
Upon his resignation today, Moose’s attorney read a statement, according to an Associated Press report. In the statement, Moose said didn’t want to dwell on the past and prefers to “focus on the future.” Moose said he had worked to make Montgomery County a “safe and secure place to live.”
The book, “Three Weeks in October,” can be preordered online. It is scheduled for publication in October, one year after the sniper attacks.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press