D.C. sniper investigator speaks on campus

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who ran the sniper investigation this fall, spoke to a Marvin Center audience Friday about the importance of leadership and standing by one’s convictions.

The event, part of the School of Business and Public Management 2002 Leadership Retreat, featured the chief talking about crisis management.

“If your job and your values and your opinions are not worth getting fired for, then why are you making them?” Moose said to the crowd of about 75 students and faculty.

He said one of the advantages with the sniper situation was how clear cut the mission was – to find the shooter or shooters. Moose said one of the most important aspects of leadership is being comfortable in delegating authority.

At the climax of the sniper investigation, when the two suspects were found in a parked car, Moose said his first instinct was to go to the scene personally, however, he said trusting others to do their job was key in the success of the broader investigation.

The pivotal moment in the case came in early October, when a 13-year-old middle school student was shot in the snipers’ sixth attack, Moose said.

“At this point, it started to look like it’s going to be bigger than a local case,” Moose said. “To get the mission done, to manage the crisis, we got to bring in more resources.”

He emphasized the importance of a goal in dealing with a crisis, but also acknowledged problems keeping one throughout the mission. During the case, Moose said he was faced with the challenge of requesting help from the FBI and risking looking like an amateur in the intense public scrutiny of the high profile case.

“If I got to ask for help (from the FBI), how will that be perceived?” Moose asked.

Moose has become one of the nation’s most well-known officers since the October sniper killings, and said that the proceeds from his new book about the case, “Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the D.C. sniper,” will be donated to mental health charities in the D.C. area.

Moose said being a public figure in a crisis situation is like a double-edged sword.

“It is in the category of ‘be careful of what you ask for,'” Moose said.

Melissa Lera, senior and chair of the retreat, called the chief a natural choice to make the speech.

“In the midst of the planning in October, he seemed like a living example of a leader,” Lera said.

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