Portland’s first black police chief Charles Moose has died aged 68

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Portland’s first Black Police Chief Charles Moose – an early supporter of community policing who went on to become the Montgomery County, Maryland, County Police Chief and led the 2002 sniper investigation. Beltway – passed away. He was 68 years old.

Charles Moose was the Portland Police Chief from 1993 to 1999, when he moved to Montgomery County, where he led that police service until 2003.

“I feel connected to Chief Moose because he was the first African American Chief, a champion of community policing and led the office through tough times,” said current Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell. , in a press release Friday morning. “Chief Moose was very present and had a servant’s heart. “

Former Portland Police Chief Charles Moose was the first black man to hold the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain and chief.

Courtesy of Portland Police Office / OPB

In a Facebook post, Sandy Moose said her husband died at home watching football in his recliner.

Moose joined the almost all-white Portland Police Bureau in 1975 and gradually rose through the ranks, becoming captain in 1992. He was appointed Chief in 1993 and not only became the first black person to head the office, but , at 39, the youngest chef in its history too. By the time he became chief, he had already broken down barriers. He was also the first black to achieve the rank of sergeant, lieutenant and captain in the office.

“All the officers of color, we were just an isolated crew,” said former Portland Police Officer David Barrios. “Charles was kind of a rallying point for us and we had a lot of respect for him. “

Moose earned a doctorate. in Urban Studies and wrote his dissertation on community policing, a practice he helped implement in Portland and for which he gained national attention.

“Community policing says police and citizens are working together to solve problems,” Moose said at a 1993 conference at the Portland City Club. “It doesn’t have to be more complex than that.”

Moose’s conception of community policing involved the then new idea of ​​going beyond the criminal justice system to connect people with social health, education, and employment services.

“He got his doctorate. and wrote about it and then put it into practice in a way that hasn’t been done since, ”Barrios said. “It’s definitely not a program, it’s an attitude and it was handled that way with Charles.”

Barrios said Moose trusted officers to work directly with community members, social services and religious leaders to resolve issues, instead of always seeking direction from their supervisors.

Moose’s commitment to community policing grabbed national headlines when he and his wife bought a home in northeast Portland, an aberration at a time when fewer and fewer officers were choosing to live in Portland. The New York Times called moose a “24 hour role model”.

“I knew the stats when we moved in and I knew the area,” Moose told The Times. “But people tend to raise their own fear. One of my goals is to show the other officers that we could live here and that nothing would happen to Sandy and me.

Moose’s tenure has not been smooth. He had a notoriously bad character and was punished several times during his career for turning that anger on members of the public and city employees.

“I’m ashamed of my behavior in these situations,” Moose said in 1997, after his case was made public. “I think this is an ongoing problem for me because I continue to be a black person in a predominantly white community.”

Moose said in each case he felt discriminated against and he criticized the office for the way it handled complaints.

“They never considered me a victim in these situations,” Moose said. “I know the feeling that you don’t feel supported. “

Moose was simultaneously praised for his patience and connections with gang members and criticized for his harsh tactics against anarchist protesters in Portland.

Within a month of deploying riot police against anarchist protesters, arresting 31 and leading to at least one lawsuit against the city, Moose and other officers attended what The Oregonian described as a “rally” volatile ”, after the funeral of an alleged gang leader at Woodlawn Park. The officers relieved the tension, played basketball with the participants and bought food for them.

A 1998 birthday party in northeast Portland, turned protest, drew attention to many of the same dynamics as canine town leaders and the police office today, and rocked Moose’s commitment to community policing and his adopted neighborhood.

The day after a massive police intervention that prevented neighborhood artist Daniel Binns from hosting his annual birthday party, a large group marched first to North Precinct and then to the home of Moose in Northeast Portland, where the crowd of around 200 turned their anger on the Chief.

Police ended up using less lethal ammunition against the crowds. The chef defended their use, saying “the tool has helped us solve problems while saving lives.”

Binns’ party was known to generally attract over 1,000 people, police said, and there had been shootings in previous years. Police said the event was banned and dangerous for the community.

One protester, speaking to the Oregonian at the time, said the protest was less about the Binns party and more about the model of police harassment of the black community. Another pointed out that there had been a stabbing at a predominantly white carnival around the same time, and that these events had not received the same response from the police.

City council demanded responses from police leaders, who responded by digging, defending their tactics and blaming city council for having misplaced priorities.

Moose told city council it was insulting to spend so much time at an illegal party when drug trafficking, prostitution and a weekend shootout in Delta Park should be higher priorities.

“The public display that was given to Mr. Binns and the approval of the protest at my house has given me the clear decision that Sandy and I’s decision to live in the neighborhood is a joke and a major mistake. . “

He said his commitment to the community had been withdrawn.

Moose then apologized for apparently turning his back on his northeast Portland community, but information around the time Moose left Portland a year later suggests his handling of the protest and the backlash that followed has tarnished its legacy in the neighborhood.

In Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, DC, Moose was in the national spotlight as he led the multi-agency task force to find Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad, 41, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17. The two shot dead 13 people, killing 10 over three weeks in 2002.

“For 23 days, Chief Moose provided a calming presence amid the terror and fear that ravaged our county and the Washington area,” said Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Director. said in a press release.

Moose attempted to return to his old job with the Portland Police Department in 2017, but did not qualify as a finalist for the position, which was ultimately awarded to Oakland Deputy Chief Danielle Outlaw.

Moose retired from Montgomery County after news of a plan to write a book on the Beltway sniper investigation raised ethical concerns.

“We are extremely saddened by the news of the passing of former Chief Charles Moose,” Chief Montgomery Marcus Jones said via Facebook. “He was a great leader.”

Remembering his friend and former chef, Barrios said Portland has always been in Moose’s heart.



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